Horse Recovering From Broken Leg Featured in Rose Parade Leading Wells Fargo Team

Published : Friday, December 29, 2017 | 6:31 AM

Rusty (front right) leads the Wells Fargo stagecoach. Photo courtesy UGA Today

Rusty (front right) leads the Wells Fargo stagecoach. Photo courtesy UGA Today

Rusty, a 10-year-old Belgian horse who was injured in 2014 and referred to the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital for a broken bone in his front leg, is now preparing to lead the first-ever six-horse stagecoach for Wells Fargo in the 2018 New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena.

A story in the University of Georgia’s UGA Today Thursday said three years ago, Rusty was kicked in the shin by another horse after pulling the stage in Savannah, Georgia’s St. Patrick Day parade. The next morning, his owner, David Helmuth of Milledgeville, called his local vet, and Rusty was taken to the UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital which is part of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

At the Athens hospital, the veterinary team saw that extensive care and surgery would be required. Helmuth was told it was possible Rusty may never be sound again, the UGA Today report said. “In Rusty’s case, he was very lame, almost non-weight-bearing lame where he couldn’t put weight on that leg,” Eric Mueller, the chief medical officer of the veterinary teaching hospital at UGA and part of the team that treated Rusty, told UGA Today. “Initially, we probably would have given him about a 50-50 chance because of the size of the horse, the location of the wound and the severity of the lameness.”

Nevertheless, Helmuth decided to go ahead with the surgery, the report said, and Rusty came through with flying colors, thanks to the dedicated veterinary team.

Three years later, Rusty can boast of a 100 percent recovery. He hasn’t been lame a day since the surgery, the report said.

“It’s nothing short of a miracle,” a proud Helmuth said. “I can’t say enough about the UGA veterinary hospital, the students, the vets. They were just wonderful. I believed in them, and they believed in me, and we all believed in Rusty.”

Rusty is one of six horses Helmuth is taking the cross country to be hitched up to the Wells Fargo stagecoach for the Rose Parade. UGA’s Mueller and his medical team will be watching Rusty on television as he leads the coach down the parade route.

“That’s why we do what we do,” Mueller said in the UGA Today report. “We’ll be super proud of Rusty and all he’s accomplished, and we’ll be thinking ‘go ‘Dogs,’ because we really want to get to that national championship, and Rusty’s going to help us get there.”

The 129th Rose Parade will air on New Year’s Day beginning at 8 a.m. Pacific on most networks; later in the day, Georgia plays the University of Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl Game with kickoff shortly after 5 p.m. Eastern, 2 p.m. Pacific, on ESPN.

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