May 15, 2015, started out just like any other day for cowboy-mounted shooting horse Lieutenant Justin. Justin knew his job and performed it well, having competed in mounted shooting for 10 years. However, during a practice, a single misstep proved disastrous. Justin broke his leg.
Many times, broken legs mean that horses must be put down. But sometimes, depending on where the break is, surgery is a possibility. Justin’s leg was repaired, and he began a long period of rehabilitation.
One year later, Justin returned to his job as a mounted shooting horse. He is sound, his leg is strong, and he’s clearly happy to be back in the arena. This video chronicles his amazing journey, from the day he broke his leg to his triumphant return to mounted shooting.
While Justin overcame his broken leg, many horses aren’t so lucky. According to The Guardian, there are a number of reasons why broken legs can be so devastating for horses. The first is the fact that the bones of a horse’s leg are light. This light weight allows the horse to move quickly, but it also means that the bone can completely shatter with the wrong type of break. A shattered leg can’t be repaired.
But horses face another issue when they break their legs: The threat of laminitis. Laminitis is a hugely painful condition in which the tissue of the horse’s hoof can become inflamed and even start to give way under pressure. When a horse shifts his weight from his broken leg, he makes up for it on another leg. This increased pressure can cause and worsen laminitis.