Saving Rooster: A Foaling Season Success Story

By Abbi Gardner

Horse named Rooster in 2020 as a foal and 2021 as adult
Photo One: Rooster recovering in our Large Animal Teaching Hospital ICU Photo Two: Almost a year later, Rooster is a strong and healthy yearling

Springtime in the South ushers in warmer days, blossoming flowers and, for many horse-owners, foaling season. Bringing a new equine life into the world is an exciting adventure that doesn’t always go as planned. As the staff of our Equine Internal Medicine Service prepares for the upcoming foaling season, they take time to reflect back and check-in on foals who were previously treated in the J.T. Vaughan Large Animal Teaching Hospital Intensive Care Unit.

Last spring, Katie Robinson and her Oldenburg colt, Rooster, learned just how complex the birth of a foal can be. Rooster was born prematurely and experienced significant complications shortly after birth. Thanks to the quick actions of his owner and his primary care veterinarian, Dr. Barbara Benhart, Rooster was referred to the Large Animal Teaching Hospital for intensive care treatment.

Rooster suffered from complications that many foals are prone to develop when they are born prematurely. He was weak and unable to nurse colostrum from his dam, which resulted in a blood infection called septicemia. Septicemia is a life-threatening condition in all animals, but particularly in foals that rely on ingestion of colostrum for immunity after birth. Rooster made it to the AULATH ICU quickly, and was immediately treated for the condition. Dr. Erin Groover, a board-certified equine internal medicine specialist, was the primary clinician taking care of Rooster on arrival and was worried about the little foal. “He was really sick when he arrived. With Ms. Robinson’s support, we were able to treat Rooster very aggressively and with a lot of hard work from our technical staff, and him fighting to survive, he started to make significant improvement.”

After several touch-and-go days in the ICU and around-the-clock monitoring from his care team, Rooster made a remarkable recovery. “He was a true highlight to the 2020 foaling season,” Dr. Groover recalled. “He was so sick, but he responded positively to every treatment. I can’t say enough about the commitment and support Ms. Robinson gave us by entrusting our team with Rooster’s care, and what a great job our technical staff and residents did to help Rooster go home strong and healthy.”

Now, almost a year later, Rooster is a strong and healthy yearling. “Dr. Groover was exceptional with her communication and understanding of this foal’s importance to me,” Robinson said. “I truly felt we worked together to make the best treatment choices we possibly could to give him every opportunity to fight to stay with us.

“I have zero doubts my foal would not be here without my local veterinarian, Dr. Groover and the entire staff at the Auburn Veterinary Teaching Hospital,” Robinson added. “I hope any fellow horse owners that notice their mares or foals struggling will act quickly to get them the help they need.”

As foaling season approaches, the Equine Internal Medicine Service is ready!
More information on the Equine Internal Medicine Service
More on the J.T. Vaughan Large Animal Hospital