VETS have saved a horse which almost had to be put down after injuring one of her hooves on a sharp piece of wire.
Six-year-old April owes her recovery to ten ballpoint pens and a device which was originally developed to help seriously-injured servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The horse was in her field when she suffered the wound which nearly ended her life.
Her owner, Olivia Yendall, 19, of Southampton, said: "It was horrendous and we couldn't help fearing the worst because it looked so bad. We can only imagine she got her hoof caught and pulled back in panic. It's a miracle she survived."
April spent ten days at the Seadown Veterinary Hospital in Frost Lane, Hythe.
Her treatment coincided with a visit by Professor Derek Knottenbelt and Georgie Hollies from the Veterinary Wound Library, an award-winning organisation which provides vets across the country with specialist advice and clinical support.
Prof Knottenbelt said: "The wound was horrendous. When I opened it up I could see a lot of contamination and dead tissue. We had to do something or put April down.
"A very sophisticated and versatile piece of equipment called a Versajet had been sent in advance of our visit.
"It's an amazing machine which was invented to help severely injured soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan - men and women with desperately bad wounds likely to be severely contaminated by dessert dust and sand.
"The Versajet powers saline through a small hose into the wound, lifting off every bit of bacteria. We used it on April and it proved perfect.
"Once we'd removed the bacteria we had to stop movement - a major inhibitor of healing - and very carefully applied a cast bandage.
"Ten ballpoint pens were placed around the foot so that the cast became very rigid very quickly but without the need for hugely costly material which can be very heavy for the horse.
"It's very simple, works a treat and is just basic common sense.
"April will need - and is having - a long rehabilitation but we're all expecting her wound to be completely healed and in a year's time it will hardly be noticeable. It's a wonderful outcome for what was a very serious injury and one from which April was lucky to survive."
Equine vet Breda McDonagh added: "We are delighted that April has done so well."
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