A training session at the New York Equestrian Center in West Hempstead on Dec. 23 might turn out to be life-threatening for a 6-year-old horse named Frost thatstepped on a four-inch-long nail.
“Due to the nature of the injury, that nail not only punctured his hoof, but it punctured all the main structures of his foot,” said Alison McGowan, a horse trainer who began working with Frost in July.
“This injury can be fatal because if one foot goes bad, [the horse] would have to put more weight on its other feet, which could lead to laminitis,” said Frost’s veterinarian, Dr. Camilo Sierra.
Frost underwent surgery last week, and he is recovering in an intensive-care unit at a local veterinary hospital. “We just have to take it one day at a time,” McGowan said. “He’s still at a very delicate stage right now, but we’re just hoping that he comes home to us and that he pulls through it.”
McGowan, who usually works with Frost, was notified about the incident by another trainer who was with the thoroughbred at the time. She then asked Sierra to examine him.
“When I arrived, the groomers were using metal detectors, and they ended up finding a bunch of nails in their indoor arena,” Sierra said. “It’s very unusual, and it’s something that should never happen.”
Sierra was told by groomers at NYEC that the nails had fallen off old equipment while the arena was being raked. “In all of my years of being with horses, I have never come across an injury relating to an issue such as this,” said McGowan, who began training her horses at NYEC this fall. “It’s horrible. My biggest concern was obviously the safety of all the riders that ride there as well as other horses.”
McGowan, who retrains thoroughbreds like Frost once their racing careers end, said that his time as a jumper is over. She told the Herald that he would be in rehab for six months, and she hoped he would return to her barn in Oyster Bay.
“He’s an amazing horse, and it’s a shame because he was doing so well,” she said. “We love to see these horses come off the track and enjoy their new discipline. Even though that part of his life is over, we’ll love him just the same. We just want him to make it.”
McGowan said her husband, James, had asked NYEC owner Alex Jacobson for an explanation, but Jacobson told him that he had to speak to his attorney.
“We run a wonderful and safe equestrian center,” Jacobson said. “We’ve been in the community for a very long time, and an incident like this has never happened before. We are well-aware of the incident and are deeply concerned for the horse and his welfare. Unfortunately, it was just a freak accident.”
As for the safety of the NYEC facility, McGowan said she hoped the center would do a better job of maintaining its grounds. “It would really upset me for anybody to be going through what I’m going through,” she added, “or even worse, somebody getting injured as a result of this.”
McGowan also said that the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is investigating the incident. NYEC, which has been on the market since August, is still for sale for $20 million.