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by Grace Monmaney, DVM


ARTICLE: Bella's Blunder

As a horse owner one of our biggest fears is to hear a commotion from the pasture and run out to find our horse sick or injured. Bella is an 11-year-old quarter horse mare who found herself in this exact predicament one fall morning. A morning of pasture turnout with her herd mate quickly became a very serious situation when Bella came barreling down the hill and was unable to stop in time. Owners, Linda and Steve, heard a loud noise and came out to find the gate off the hinges. Bella had sustained a severe laceration across her entire under abdomen. They quickly recognized the serious nature of the situation and called Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center.

Dr. Grace Monmaney responded that morning to find that Bella had sustained a serious laceration and was in distress. Upon presentation Bella was quiet and alert, covered in sweat and had an elevated heart rate of 60bpm (normal range is 28-40bpm). There was a large horizontal laceration extending from sternum to flank region on her right abdomen. The wound dissected through two layers of abdominal musculature exposing ribs and internal abdominal musculature. (There are three layers of abdominal muscles and Bella had lacerated through two of them.) This left only one layer of muscle between the outside world and her intestines, a very frightening sight indeed!

Images of the initial injury approximately 1 hour after the traumatic incident. Bella's tail is oriented left and her head is to the right. The pictures are taken from her right side and show the extent of her wound.


Dr. Grace knew she had her work cut out for her that afternoon, but quickly got to work clipping, cleaning, lavaging and suturing. All-in-all it took 5.5 hours and 12 packages of suture material to put Bella back together again.

Wound after 5.5 hours of suturing.


Bella in her belly band, eating a well-deserved bran mash after standing still for her laceration repair.


Due to the severe nature of Bella’s wound she was facing a very long road to recovery. She required an abdominal bandage to prevent her weakened abdominal musculature from herniating. She also required a course of injectable and then oral antibiotics as well as Banamine for pain management. In the days following her injury, Bella was understandably sore, but bright with a great appetite. She also started to figure out how to lay down and rest! This made us all a bit nervous at first! After 27 days, lots of love and care, and some minor back soreness from the hernia belt, Bella was able to have her sutures removed. Much to everyone’s delight you could hardly tell that Bella had sustained a serious wound.

Bella's right side at the time of suture removal. 27 days post-injury.


All-in-all Bella’s recovery period was 3 months; similar to the recovery period for a colic surgery. October 24th will mark one year since that terrifying day. Thankfully Bella’s owners acted quickly during this situation and got Bella the help she needed. Together with the veterinarians of Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center, they took excellent care of Bella during her recovery period. Bella is now back to herself and doing what she loves; a bit of trail riding, some horse camping and serving as a lesson horse for the neighbor’s granddaughter. Bella’s mom, Linda, reports Bella has minimal scarring with just a slight convex area where the deepest portion of the laceration occurred. Bella’s story goes to show that keeping calm and getting veterinary care in a timely manner, along with excellent follow-up care, can have a very successful outcome even with severe wounds. Happy trails Miss Bella, we are glad you are back under saddle once again!