The Barnes family of Northbrook, Illinois, said goodbye to its longtime equine family member, Zippos Ace Of Spades, on February 5. ?Ace,? a two-time AQHA World Championship Show Sooner All-Around Amateur horse, was euthanized due to complications from laminitis.The laminitic episode began in late October 2009. Ace had been at Merritt and Associated Equine Hospital in Wauconda, Illinois, since mid-December.
?It was unexplainable,? says Nicole Barnes of Glenview, Illinois, Ace?s owner, in an interview with The American Quarter Horse Journal. ?We can't pinpoint it to anything. For as much traveling up and down the road as we did with him, he always stayed very, very sound. Last week, we made the decision that it was not fair to him to be suffering any longer.?
?They tried every trick in the book,? says AQHA Professional Horseman Brad Kearns. Brad and his wife, Valerie, trained Ace and Nicole through youth and amateur competition. ?The veterinarians and techs involved with Ace took care of him like he was their own. They did everything they could do and were not able to maintain him. He was getting progressively worse, and they said it was time.?
Familiar at AQHA shows across the country, the gray gelding was a once-in-a-lifetime horse for the Barnes family. Foaled in 1997 by Zippo A Ward and out of Nosilksocks by Mr High Socks, he was bred by Judith Box of Lewisville, Texas. His accomplishments included numerous all-around titles, high-points, Superior awards and more than 4,500 AQHA points in everything from showmanship to western pleasure; he even had points in reining. He earned $39,168 at the AQHA World Championship Show and $29,416 through National Snaffle Bit Association competition.
?What made (Ace) a great horse was his willingness to please, to try, to pull that extra 10 percent out and put himself ahead of the pack. Ace gave his all to whoever rode him, but I think Nicole was always his favorite," Brad says.
?He was a good athlete, but he had more heart than anything.?
Since 1973, the American Quarter Horse Foundation has funded research programs at five different universities with the goal to reach a treatment or cure for laminitis in horses. To date, the Foundation has invested more than $775,000 on this research.
The most recent research project funded by the American Quarter Horse Foundation is worth $50,015. ?Effects of Resting Insulin Sensitivity on the Acute Response to Endotoxin in Horses? was conducted at the University of Tennessee.
The focus of the project is on a common form of ?grass founder? laminitis that occurs when a toxic bacterial byproduct is produced during digestion. Researchers think this bacteria or endotoxin causes various damaging effects. It is suggested the response by the horse's body then inadequately processes glucose or sugar causing insulin resistance similar to what occurs in pre-diabetic patients. This reaction could alter blood flow to the hoof tissue, thus inducing laminitis. In this project, researchers will look at preexisting cases of insulin resistance and determine whether the amount of endotoxin causing laminitis can be suppressed with drugs.