Santa Fe Scoop

Molly, the amputee Horse Hurricane Katriana survivor story


I've written articles over the years about horses who survived amputation surgery. There was Boitron, the California Thoroughbred stallion who could service mares after amputation surgery. There were Dr. Ric Redden dramatic cases of founder survivors who galloped around his paddock on artificial feet with "transplanted frogs". Dr. Chris Colles had the never-say-die Appaloosa in England with the spring-loaded foot. And who can forget that paint yearling in India ? Or the landmine-maimed elephant amputee in Thailand ? Longtime Hoofcare and Lameness Journal readers will remember them all.

So when I first heard that a pony had survived amputation surgery at Louisiana State University (LSU) equine hospital, I didn’t run to the keyboard and beg for photos. A few weeks later I did, though.

Meet Molly. She’s a gray speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Katrina hit southern Louisiana. She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier, and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected and her vet went to LSU for help. But LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case. You know how that goes.
But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn't seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight, and didn’t overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

This was the right horse and the right owner," Moore insists Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She’s tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood (that) she was in trouble.The other important factor, according to Moore , is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly’s story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana . The little pony gained weight, her mane felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life. Allison Barca DVM, Molly's regular vet, reports, she asks for it! She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too." And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a three-legged horse she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay, the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people. And she had a good time doing it.
It’s obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life, Moore said, She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.

She's not back to normal, Barca concluded. She's going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.

This week, Molly the Pony, a children book about the pony who has already inspired thousands of people around New Orleans , has been published.

It’s not a book about amputation or prosthetics; it’s a book about people and ponies. But the photos you see here are from the book.

Maybe Molly won’t make the vet textbooks, but she might reach more people from the pages of this book for children. If you know a child, a library, a hospital, or maybe a therapeutic riding program that can use a lift, here’s a book that can do that. And you can explain how the leg and hoof work!


If you are interest in this book: Hoofcare Publishing is proud to offer it for sale Email orders to books@hoofcare. com. or 978 281 3222. Fax orders to ( USA ) 978 283 8775 A portion of the sales price will go toward Molly's fund.

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Tags: amputee, horse

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Comment by jamie on November 30, 2008 at 12:07am
She was talking about the stepdaughter being born in 1989. =)

Molly is actually a varnish roan (i.e. appaloosa roan). She isn't a shetland, she's a mix of shetland and who knows what but something with app in it somewhere, possibly a POA or a mini with app markings.

There are no duns or true roans in Arabians, no palominos or buckskins either. I don't think any color is hardier it is just that there are a lot of these colors in the hardier horses like mustangs.
Comment by MicheleElys on May 19, 2008 at 5:38pm
Well if Alice sent Molly's story out in 1989 - I guess Molly was NOT a katrina victim or there are two amputee Mollys!! Either way, the story is great about humans taking the extra mile to help a horse! Maybe we all could accept the kindness that was given.
Comment by MicheleElys on May 18, 2008 at 9:34am
Elizabeth: This wonderful story about Molly was sent to me via email about 6 months ago; I belonged to a Gigantic horse email club in Colorado, and I kept it. It was a reminder that all was not loss - as to humanity due to Katrina. All I did was copy and paste and this was the email in it's entirety. I do know Duns & Roans come in pony's, Arabians (which was a shock to me, for it was great to find out and see) all different horses. It is a colouring and really beautiful.
You might want to start with the doctors that are mentioned. It was not something that I felt needed to be researched, only that a "good" story was coming out of Katrina.
Good luck and thanks for all the efforts. Another idea! since the author mention (and I think it is a "he") that he has written on other amputees, this is another avenue of search. MicheleElys
Comment by CindyR on May 18, 2008 at 9:19am
try this link to load the video much faster: Molly
Comment by CindyR on May 18, 2008 at 8:03am
Here is some more to feed you all that are fascinated with Molly's story:

And the book that has been published:
Molly the Pony, by Pam Kaster

Elizabeth: I can't find the author of the above (originally posted) article either. Must have been lost in the internet/cyberspace/mania free-for-all.
MicheleElys: On your original post, where do your comments start and stop, and which parts were taken from another source? It would be helpful if you delineated those separately if you can remember. :-)
Comment by Alice and Morgan on May 18, 2008 at 5:44am
I sent the story of the horse Molly to my 19 year old step-daughter, also named Molly, who is a true survivor, having been born a premie and weighing 1lb , some ounces at 26 weeks! That was back in 1989! She's in college now and going strong.
Comment by Elizabeth J. Baldwin on May 18, 2008 at 5:24am
You're welcome, Cindy. I believe the dun and roan colors may be hardier because they are closer to "wild survival" colors. Though after losing a Leopard spotted Appaloosa and a Dalmatian in my backyard one time I no longer consider "flashy" colors such as paints and palominos contra-survival.
The two animals were resting in the shade of a large oak tree on a sunny day and the camouflage was so perfect they disappeared until one of them moved.
Here is something else about Katrina I find mind boggling--enough money was appropiated and designated by the goverment to give every man, woman and child directly affected by Katrina a hundred thousand dollars. Where the heck did all that money go?
MicheleElys, I've been looking and so far have not found the orginal author of the article. I will keep hunting. If you happen to find the orginal source I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know.
Elizabeth J. Baldwin
Comment by CindyR on May 18, 2008 at 12:28am
Here is the story from LSU: LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Performed Rare Surgery on Hurrica...

I found Elizabeth's remarks to be quite interesting, not realizing that roans/duns can be hardier. Thanks for sharing your knowledge Elizabeth. Welcome to the Scoop.
Comment by MicheleElys on May 17, 2008 at 9:16am
Elizabeth, I did not write the story! It was sent out in a email to remind everyone that all was not horrid due to Katrina and lack of governmental funds. Just to inspire. And I don't know who wrote the story, you might want to look it up for yourself, to inform the actual writer of his or her corrections.
Comment by Elizabeth J. Baldwin on May 17, 2008 at 7:59am
I love the story of Molly.
BUT there is one little error in your story--she isn't a gray. Molly is a blue roan. Her black head is what tells the tale. A gray horse will have a head that is lighter than its body. A roan (blue, red, bay, grulla or any other base shade) will have a head, legs, ear tips, muzzle, mane and tail darker than the body.
I think this may have contributed to her survival because roans along with duns are, in my experience, very tough horses regardless of breed.

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