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Swiss Queen, 20, dies
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications

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Freehold, NJ --- The 20-year-old trotting broodmare Swiss Queen died Aug. 11, 2014, at her home of 15 years, Bluestone Farm, in Hopewell, N.J.

She had an unremarkable sort of pedigree, a daughter of Swiss Connection, and an ordinary race career, winning 10 of 32 races and $31,713 in a career spanning four years.

 
Photo courtesy of Bluestone Farm
Pictured (left to right) are Kelly Detweiler, Emily Homan, Swiss Queen (aka Boo Boo), Dr. Eli Perris and Brenda Clawges.

It was at the close of that racing career that her life took a turn to the extraordinary.

“She was presented here by a past connection for breeding (to the stallion Trade Balance) on May 7, 1999,” said Bluestone Farm proprietor Mitchel Skolnick.

“When she arrived, we told him we wouldn’t breed her in this condition. Her (left hind) leg was swollen so badly it looked like she had elephantitis. So he took her home and several days later called and said, ‘We can’t take care of her, do you want her?’ He brought her back and we have had her ever since.”

Despite immediate veterinary treatment, the situation was dire. Dr. Eli Perris treated the mare at the acute phase and throughout the rest of her life.

Swiss Queen was found to have septic tarsal joints. Multiple joint flushes were done to combat the infection, along with treatment of abscesses. The skin from the joint to the fetlock became necrotic and sloughed. Ultimately the mare’s superficial flexor tendon and deep digital flexor tendon became necrotic and were debrided.

“Her leg started to fall apart. The leg looked horrible,” said Skolnick.

Since then, a succession of veterinary interventions, including a skin graft, were tried to no avail. The mare, soon nicknamed Boo Boo, endeared herself to Skolnick and the farm staff. With fastidious care, the wound, while it remained non-healing and covered her leg from hock to ankle, was cleaned and cared for daily.

“When Linda Barnhart was here, she wrapped the leg -- every day, 365 days of the year,” said Skolnick. “We were able to maintain it and we never really discussed euthanizing her after the beginning. After Linda, it was Jodi Sadowski, Nikki Nawrot, Kelly Detweiler and Brenda Clawges. All have been taking care of that mare for the past 15 years.”

With diligent daily care, most of Swiss Queen’s days were good ones. She was comfortable, mobile and had friends among the broodmare band at Bluestone.

“She never stopped eating or grazing,” said Dr. Perris. “She was a brave soul.”

She had four foals, including stakes-winner Santana Bluestone, who won 33 races and $331,201.

“She’d come right over to the fence when Brenda or Kelly called her name. She spent most of the past few years in a small paddock with her friend Falnos Babell, a daughter of Mack Lobell,” said Skolnick. “Linda (Barnhart) used to go out at lunch time and sit with her and eat her lunch.”

For the last nine years, she’s been retired. None of the three yearlings sold by Bluestone from Swiss Queen brought more than $10,000.

A tryout as babysitter for yearling fillies did not go well when Swiss Queen helped herself to too much grain.

“She got too fat,” said Skolnick. “We had to control her weight so she didn’t put too much weight on that leg.”

Finally, late last week, the careful care given to Swiss Queen for 15 years was no longer enough. Her pain could no longer be controlled. She was euthanized on Aug. 11 at her home at Bluestone Farm and was buried at the top of a hilly pasture.

We spent 15 years concerned about her, but we have a philosophy -- we bring them into this world, so we take care of them,” said Skolnick.


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