University of Georgia

Once Lame, This Horse Will Lead a Rose Parade Stagecoach Team

"It's nothing short of a miracle," the horse's owner said.

After overcoming an injury, a horse from Georgia is trekking west to Los Angeles as he shows off his newfound ability to walk at the Rose Parade.

Rusty the 10-year-old Belgian horse will be leading a six-horse stagecoach at the 2018 Rose Parade after making what his owner called a miraculous recovery from a broken leg that threatened to leave him lame for life, the University of Georgia announced.

Rusty's injury dates back to 2014, according to the university. As he was getting ready to pull the stage at the Savannah St. Patrick's Day parade, Rusty was kicked in the stage by another horse. The next morning, his leg had swollen up to the point where owner David Helmuth had to take him to the vet.

That vet referred Helmuth to the UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital, where the vet team determined that Rusty would need extensive medical care and surgery.

"In Rusty's case, he was very lame, almost non-weight-bearing lame where he couldn't put weight on that leg," Eric Mueller, chief medical officer of the veterinary teaching hospital at UGA and part of the team that treated Rusty, told the university. "Initially we probably would have given him about a 50-50 chance because of the size of the horse, the location of the wound and the severity of the lameness."

While the procedure posed its risks, Helmuth decided to trust the surgeons and give Rusty a fighting chance. That risk paid off, with Rusty now back to full health.

"It's nothing short of a miracle," Helmuth said. "I can't say enough about the UGA veterinary hospital, the students, the vets. They were just wonderful. I believed in them and they believed in me, and we all believed in Rusty."

That belief will carry over all the way to Pasadena as Rusty leads his team for the Rose Parade. And of course, the UGA vets will be tuned in from Georgia to watch Rusty strut his stuff Jan. 1.

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