Gunnamakacomeback Comes Back From Sepsis to Compete
When Gunnamakacomeback was foaled in 2020, he was the answer to dreams for Shelly and Chad Hartmann.
They had bred their beautiful Wimpys Little Step mare, Wimpys Bella Chic, to NRHA 10 Million Dollar Sire Gunnatrashya. Chad had piloted her through her show career for all but $400 of her $13,926 in earnings, and she was special to them.
The Hartmanns couldn’t wait to see the foal. He was going to be a corker.
And he was.
Then, about Day 10, he wasn’t moving.
“The vet came out, and he said, ‘I don’t know what this colt means to you, but if he means anything, we need to get him up to CSU right away,’” Chad recalled.
At the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, veterinarians found the foal was septic and flushed his joints but couldn’t identify the source of the infection. The foal went home.
“Four or five days later – I’m going to call it mother’s intuition because it wasn’t apparent – I said, ‘He’s not right,’” Shelly said. “We took him back to CSU, and they flushed his joints again. That time, they found the infection, and it was his umbilicus. So they removed it.”
Once more, the baby went home, and once more, the Hartmanns had a bad feeling and called a vet, who told them the infection was seated in the bone – which can’t be removed.
“So he got special permission and authorization to get this really nasty antibiotic that causes cancer in humans,” Shelly said. “Chad had to put gloves and a respirator on, and we had to give that to him every eight hours for 30 days.”
Even a small foal can be a handful for adults, and a foal having liquid medicine pushed down the throat three times a day could become fractious, but Gunnamakacomeback never did.
He recovered – but then Shelly noticed his eyes didn’t look right. He had gotten cataracts from the infection. They considered surgery, among other options, and had difficult discussions about the colt’s future.
The Hartmans called another vet they had used a lot. Chad said. “And he said, ‘Chad, don’t do anything. A lot of times as horses grow older, the body will naturally resorb some of the cataracts.’”
That didn’t work out for Gunnamakacomeback. He is 70 percent blind in his right eye and 50 percent blind in the left.
The Hartmanns talked about his quality of life, “but to watch him as a colt, you would never be able to tell,” Chad said. “We put him out in the pasture, and he’d run around, and you could not tell he had a vision problem at all. So then we knew, OK, he’s special.”
One veterinarian told the Hartmanns it wouldn’t be safe to ride the colt because of the risk of falling, but an ophthalmologist gave them hope and a prescription for daily eye medications. So the Hartmanns sent “Hot Shot” to NRHA Professional Ryan Rushing, whose assistant, Erin Garlock, started the colt.
“We were so grateful they were willing to take him on,” Shelly said. “A lot of trainers would not be willing to do that and take that risk.”
Chad will ride Hot Shot on Nov. 26 in the second section of the CINCH Non Pro Futurity.
“Just being able to put him in the pen is gonna be great,” Chad said. “I mean, I would love to make it back to the finals in one of the levels where I’m eligible. So I would like to be able to ride him in the finals. And again, I’m just happy to be here and just happy to be riding.”
No matter what happens, the Hartmanns will be proud of their gelding.
“He’s our heart horse,” Shelly said.