WILL TO LIVE: Cathy Gordon and Susie Kerkenezov with Hamish, the five-year-old thoroughbred saved by staff at the Balliwood Stables Equine Veterinary Hospital in Ballina.
WILL TO LIVE: Cathy Gordon and Susie Kerkenezov with Hamish, the five-year-old thoroughbred saved by staff at the Balliwood Stables Equine Veterinary Hospital in Ballina. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Vet aids Hamish the horse to beat the odds

AN UNFORTUNATE accident with a nail almost spelled certain doom for Hamish, a Brisbane racehorse, but thanks to a dedicated Ballina vet, he has the promise of a full life ahead of him.

When the five-year-old gelding stepped on a nail, his joints became so badly infected his original vet in Brisbane thought the only option was to put him down.

But Hamish's owner, Ron Cameron, had other ideas.

Three months ago he drove Hamish down to Balliwood Stables Equine Vet Hospital with the hope that specialist equine vet Peter Kerkenezov might work a miracle.

Dr Kerkenezov, a vet of 43 years, said the horse was in a shocking state. Hamish arrived at Balliwood on three legs, trembling from pain and hardly able to stand.

He was truly on death's door, with well-entrenched chronic bone and joint disease of his left hind foot due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

One of his right hind tendons and the tendon sheath were also found to be septic, meaning both hind limbs were in peril.

Dr Kerkenezov and his team struggled for weeks to contain the infection, with constant washing and dressing and many sleepless nights.

The treatment costs have since run into the many thousands of dollars - and that's just for the antibiotics, dressings and feed, because Dr Kerkenezov has refused to charge the owner a cent for his time.

But after three months of intensive care, Hamish is able to walk with reasonable comfort and the infection is thoroughly under control. He's almost ready to go home.

Dr Kerkenezov's stablehand Cathy Gordon, who played a major role in caring for Hamish, said they would miss the plucky horse.

"Hamish is just special. He's just a strong, tough, little horse who deserves all the help he can get," Ms Gordon said.

"Through all of this and everything we've had to do, he's still gentle and loving. He loves cuddles and kisses. We'll miss him like crazy.

"But he'll go back to his owner to be put back into a paddock and run around like a real horse again."