A Second Chance at Barrel Racing
Posted October 19, 2015
Without Dr. Leslie Easterwood and the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science’s Large Animal
Hospital (LAH), the success story of one horse and a ten-year-old
girl named Codybelle wouldn’t have happened.
“Charley is one of those horses we run across every now and then
that’s just different,” said Terry Smith of the horse, Charley. “He
definitely has some quirks, but with those come extraordinary
abilities that you don’t see too often.”
Charley, who belonged to Smith’s brother-in-law at the time,
badly injured his eye in the pasture one day. With the eye in
terrible condition and a fear that vision might be lost, Smith and
his brother loaded Charley up in the trailer and took him to a
veterinarian in Seguin, Texas.
“When we originally took him to the veterinarian in Seguin, he
said they would need to take the eyeball out. It was in really bad
condition and they didn’t think they could save it,” said Smith.
“When I asked what other options we had, the veterinarian said to
take him to Dr. Easterwood at Texas A&M.”
Smith kept Charley at his place to try and treat the eye some
more before taking him to the LAH. When Charley arrived to see Dr.
Easterwood, Smith feared there was no hope in saving Charley’s eye
“After Dr. Easterwood examined the eye, I asked her, ‘So what do
you think?’ She responded, ‘Oh, I think we’re going to save this
one,’” said Smith. “That’s when I knew we had made the right
“When I first saw Charley, his pupil was constricted tightly and
there were inflammatory proteins in the eye that might have kept
the pupil from dilating if they had remained there,” said
Easterwood, who is a clinical assistant professor at the college.
“Despite appropriate diagnosis and treatment by the referring DVM
from Seguin, his eye needed medication to get that fibrin out of
the anterior chamber so that the pupil could dilate.”
Easterwood performed the necessary procedure, and Charley’s eye
responded well. Within 24 hours of his hospitalization, the pupil
began to dilate.
“We continued topical treatments for the original fungal
infection that was present within the layers of his cornea, and he
has had a complete recovery,” said Easterwood. “We’ve rechecked him
several times and his eye has recovered very well!”
Smith was nothing less than ecstatic that the procedure was so
effective. “I know the hospital does tons of surgeries, but that
was the best I had ever been associated with,” said Smith. “Without
the help from Dr. Easterwood and her team, Charley wouldn’t be
where he is today. It sure made me a believer.“
Before his eye injury, Charley had been trained for barrel
racing by Kay Blanford, a friend of Smith’s, who has been at the
National Finals Rodeo (NFR) several times and is well known
throughout the area. With a loss of vision in his eye, barrel
racing would have been difficult for Charley, and he would never
have met Codybelle.
“I have this strange thing that I don’t like selling any of my
horses, but I end up giving them away because I like the people,”
said Smith. “This is essentially how he came into Codybelle’s
Friends of Smith’s called one day explaining that one of their
horses got hurt, and they were in need of another for their
daughter, Codybelle, to ride and run barrels with.
“This adorable little ten-year-old comes over and asks me, ‘Can
we be partners?’ She was as cute as can be,” said Smith. “Of course
I said yes, but I explained that I had never seen this horse run
barrels in my life.”
Smith, unsure if Charley was right for Codybelle, was hesitant
to give him up. However, the two formed an immediate bond.
“The very first time Codybelle rode him, Charley just absolutely
fell in love with her,” said Smith. “She even took the saddle and
reins off of him in the yard, and Charley just followed her around;
everywhere Codybelle went, Charley went.”
It wasn’t long before Codybelle and Charley were winning
everything. Placing in the top three or four at almost every barrel
racing competition, the two were a match made in heaven.
“If Dr. Easterwood hadn’t saved his eye, this would be a
completely different story, and Charley wouldn’t be the way he is
today,” said Smith. “You can tell that Dr. Easterwood has a passion
for what she does and loves these animals. That means everything in
the world to us.”
Terry Smith and Dr.
Leslie Easterwood (right) with Charley
Contact Information: Megan Palsa,
firstname.lastname@example.org, 979-862-4216, 979-421-3121 (cell)
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