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The Meaning of 3H’s

The dictionary has a very long list of possible words beginning with the letter “H”, but in 1987 when the family immigrated to the US, the “H’s” proudly stood for Home, Horses and Hope. While these have been guideposts in the journey, it is also true they stepped off the plane from Colombia with only 3 Horses.

3H Equine Hospital and Mobile Veterinary Services began at the kitchen table in 1997, immediately following graduation from NC State as a vet. Today it is a multi-doctor practice, licensed in NC and Fl, and covering the entire spectrum of equine medicine, including rehabilitation for conditioning and lameness. 3H remains committed to mentoring new vets and educating clients, but the pride in its soul to be serving many of its first clients runs oh, so deep.

“Sometimes you lead sometimes you follow”

By Fernando Cardenas, DVM, 2016

Equine veterinarian medicine exists because horses get sick or injured, and owners who love them, want to help. Show jumping, for example, would never possible without veterinarian medicine. The sport can be brutal on both the athlete and rider, but with best practices for care and precision tools for preventive and curative lameness, the results are as amazing.

It would be hard to say, however, which to credit as the source of the relationship: the inspiration of the equine athlete or the vision of what was possible, by the vet. Which one propelled the other to newer and better ways to handle equine lameness? Like the lyrics in country music, “Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow”.

The question has been especially perplexing, but never daunting. In fact, 3H Vet Rehabilitation Facility within our mobile practice was my answer. Such powerful rehab equipment was not an option until the twenty-first century an is evolving all the time. Supporting Quincy Car’s potential by making rehab an integral part of his training became a vision of reaching the potential of all horses. No different than humans, equines, too, perform and respond more effectively to treatment when “fit”. Therapies range from water and/or incline treadmills to vibration, solarium and laser treatments, with many other possible tools available. Workouts are complemented by chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, shockwave and regenerative laser treatments. These work together to correct and prevent issues as much as they heal the inflammation and soreness leading to a diminished range of motion and pain. For the serious equine athlete, a preventive care plan is as important as a remedial one, and the rehab facility is key. A new equine “CPR” is emerging:
Correct diagnosis, Precise prescription and Rigorous rehabilitation.

Treating My Own Grand Prix Jumping Stallion (2018)

Quincy Car is no stranger to performance and the risk of injury.
As a twelve year old Olympic qualifier, he has not only been my willing partner, but he has exceeded my every expectation in stadium jumping. Consequently, I had no reason to doubt he would pull through the long and very strenuous program of recovery from a superficial tendon injury. Important to note: there is nothing “superficial” about this type of injury. The “superficial” refers to the name of the tendon. So, how well would he pull through? Only time and treatment would tell, but I became more optimistic every day..

At the 3H Mobile Vet and Equine Hospital, Quincy’s rehab has been arduous: months of rest followed by successive laser treatments for soft tissue healing and pain, complemented by warm-ups on the vibration plate, gradual work-outs on both the aqua and standing treadmills, and gentle re-entry every other day under saddle on the flat. Waiting and wondering was hard for me, as time-off was painful for us both. I never waivered from the goal: give him every chance, because he deserves it. Even his local fans showed up to encourage him with carrots.

Quincy initially earned his local “celebrity status” for his stellar career as “the little horse who could”. A true equine version of the “David and Goliath” story, he equally stepped up to every initiative we prescribed in his healing rehab. With the decidedly significant advantage of both laser and aqua technology, and the ability to objectively track and measure his progress with the Lameness Locator at his 3H home, Quincy has become the poster child for amazing results. His injury continued to shrink measurably and quickly. His pain was totally manageable, but his expression was decidedly lackluster each time we loaded the rig with his buddies for a show without him.

Yes, Quincy did his part with his big heart, full of the desire to please and to recover, but as an equine veterinarian of 20 years, I have treated a very full array of soft tissue insults to equine limbs. Only since the acquisition of the rehabilitation “Tools”, however, have I been able to include the proven advantages of laser and water technologies, as standard course of recommended treatment for such injuries. Scientific research has consistently shown faster healing because of deeper penetration and buoyancy in the equine’s work against resistance without concussion.

Typically, an injury similar to Quincy’s takes 14-16 months to pronounce “sound for jumping”. Exactly how high, wide, and fast Quincy or any other equine will clear those jumps after such an injury has not been documented, to my knowledge. But, after a mere 12 months of intense therapy, we have every reason to be a bit more than cautiously optimistic Good fortune and gratitude go hand in hand, so I will be the first to praise his laser and aqua treatments for accelerating his healing.

However, no show would be worth the risk of his complete “come-back”. It’s a tough decision that requires temporarily putting aside the rider/owner’s dreams and putting the equine first with every vet check. I caution myself just as I would caution my clients :

  • The rehab treatments are amazingly safe and reliable complements, but not a quick fix.
  • The laser may have best aided his pain and inflammation, but time is the ultimate healer.
  • The aqua treadmill maintains fitness while recovering, which assuredly puts the rider back in the saddle more quickly .
  • The ensemble of treatments at any rehab facility can be pricey in terms of time and money, but the health and healing of the trusted equines is priceless.

On that count, I’m fortunate Quincy could be treated “at home” at 3H in NC, but he received nothing extra or more special than what we do for others entrusted to us under similar circumstances. In addition to the machines, each has a caring team of handlers. We keep “at-it” : small steps every day in eager anticipation of pronouncing each, “good to go”.

Quincy Car refused to be defined by his injury. Earlier this year he showed us he was decidedly “chomping at the bit” to be back in the show ring, and he stepped into the rig with a whinny. Once in the ring at Hits Ocala, we exercised only extreme caution, rather than pressure to perform. With his inimitable style and big heart, he gave us clear rounds in those grand prix as his first effort after “coming back”. Placing 5 and 7, made us all so proud.

Treatment is never a guarantee, but is the best plan. Committing to the plan, and continuing treatments gave us all the hope we needed as we waited. Make no mistake; at 3H Vet we strive for the best treatment plan for all our patients, and will always hope for similar results.