I thought it would be hard to teach Metro to paint, but it was not. It was like he knew his career of being a horse was over, and this was what he was destined to do. Maybe he was way ahead of me, and knew that painting would eventually save his own life. But in less than a week, he was taking a paintbrush from my hand and stroking it on a canvas. To my surprise, the paintings look really good. They didn’t look like they were painted by… a horse.
When the paintings began to sell, I asked Kim about these expensive, experimental treatments she had mentioned when she delivered the bad news a few weeks earlier. The drug was called Tildren. It was a bone remodeling drug used with success in Europe to treat horses with navicular problems. But it had never been used on the knees in the way she wanted to use it. Metro would be the first horse to get a treatment like this. It was not approved by the FDA, but with a special license she could import it and prescribe it for Metro. And it would be expensive, but my special horse had just found a way to pay for it. He was not only paying for his own treatments, his paintings were earning enough money that we started donating 50% to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program to help other horses. He was also getting famous.
We quickly began treatments on Metro’s knees. One knee at a time, starting with the left. Once a month Kim would come over, sedate Metro, apply a blood pressure cuff as a tourniquet, and insert an IV into Metro’s lower leg. After a dose of Tildren was injected, Kim would keep the tourniquet on for 30 minutes to keep the drug confined to the lower leg for as long as she could.
After 3 months of treatments on Metro’s left knee, we got new X-Rays and Kim was excited about what she saw. She pointed out to me where the bone growth was receding in Metro’s knee. She was ecstatic, but I was still skeptical. There has been so many ups and downs with Metro’s health, I would not let myself get my hopes up. We began treatments on Metro’s right knee, and after a couple of more months, Kim was seeing such an improvement in Metro’s mobility that she wanted us to start lightly riding him again.
But I was still not sold. I was not going to fall in love with riding my horse again. I refused to ride him.
Then one day in the summer of 2013, I saw it for my very own eyes. I had turned Metro out in the outdoor arena to get some photos of him, but he wasn’t giving me anything owrth photographing. He was just content to eat the grass that grew around the edge of the arena. I grabbed Hotshot, our quarter horse, out of his stall and put him in the arena with Metro. When those two are together, something always seems to happen that makes for a good photo.
And it did. Metro began to run. He and Hotshot ran and played in that arena for 20 minutes. Metro was running, jumping, and kicking up his heels like there was nothing wrong with him. He looked healthier than I have ever seen him before. The slight limp that seemed to follow him around for the last couple of years was now gone.
I put the horses away and quickly ran home to email the photos I had just taken to Kim. We set up an appointment for the next day for Wendy to ride Metro and have Kim do an evaluation of Metro under saddle. She was amazed at what she saw. Metro looked better than he ever did. I could no longer deny it. I would soon be riding Metro again.
Painting had saved his life.
Support New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program by purchasing Painted by Metro items at Dream Green USA.