Katie and her husband Bryan are horse people. Growing up in Colorado, Katie showed and competed with them. Bryan, his brother and dad have been training horses for 20 years. Today, the couple run on a 2,000-acre ranch in Wheatland, Wyo. where they house and train wild mustangs as part of a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Though she can trace her love of horses back to childhood, she’s not quite sure what made her decide to own goats. But four years ago, while selling horses at the state fair, she came across a little pen of goats for sale- Nigerian Dwarf-Alpine crosses. They were cute and kind of fun, so Katie decided to buy one. A female she named Edna Jean. Though she hadn’t intended to breed her, Edna Jean got pregnant and in June 2017 they ended up with twin boys- Edgar and Mort. Katie couldn’t bring herself to get rid of the boys, so the goat herd grew a little larger. And last August Katie couldn’t resist snatching up a fourth goat- a tiny, 15-pound Nigerian Dwarf named Honey.
The goats are very, very busy she says. They get into everything and especially favor chewing the wires on their gas grill.
Late last winter, Edgar injured both his hind legs when he got caught in a fence. The damage to his right leg was minor, but the baby goat couldn’t use his left leg at all.
Her father-in-law, who was keeping an eye on the ranch while Katie and Bryan were out of town, took Edgar to the vet that day. X-rays showed his legs weren’t broken, but he had sustained some nerve damage.
Edgar needed injections of an anti-inflammatory in both legs. Their vet, Dr. Brenda Unrein at Laramie Peak Veterinary in Wheatland, Wy., also recommended Katie get in touch with Animal Ortho Care about a custom brace for his left leg. Visiting the website, Katie found that the devices seemed to be designed primarily for dogs. But since the hind legs of a dog and a goat are pretty similar, she decided to try us out. On the order form she filled out Edgar’s age and weight. Under breed she typed “goat.”
Animal Ortho Care began building custom braces for goats several years ago. Today, our goat business is second only to our dog business. (And we’ve jumped into building devices for sheep, llamas, horses, cats, elephants and even a camel).
Initially, Katie worried that they might have to put Edgar down. He needed help getting up every couple hours and they had to keep his leg wrapped in a piece of PVC pipe to help stabilize it– the makeshift brace did the job, but was a pain to take on and off.
When the custom brace arrived a couple days after she placed the order, Katie was pleased to find it had several hook-and-loop straps that could be adjusted to fit the goat’s leg. There were also screws she could take in and out to change whether the leg was straight or bent.
“Their brace had a ton of adjustments you could make,” she says.
The device was much easier to put on than the PVC pipe-and-duct-tape brace Edgar had been wearing. While it was tricky to get him to stay still while they strapped it on, the goat didn’t seem to mind it at all.
“He was able to walk right away,” Katie says.
The instructional videos on the website made it easy for her to learn how to fit and adjust the brace.
Though he was slow at first- taking frequent breaks to lie down and rest- Edgar quickly adapted to the brace. Katie would put it on in the morning before letting the herd out for the day and take it off in the evening so he could build up his muscles. She checked it periodically to see if it needed to be tightened or adjusted.
After just two weeks, he was walking normally without the brace.
“In the mornings when I’d let him out, he got to where he seemed OK without it.” Katie says. “I didn’t want him to be overly dependent on it.”
When Dr. Unrein visited the ranch to check out some horses, she confirmed that Edgar’s leg looked fine.
Since they’d only needed the brace for a couple weeks, Katie returned it to Animal Ortho Care and was refunded a portion of the cost.
“I thought it was awesome that they let me return it,” she says, adding that the Animal Ortho Care team was really easy to work with and responded quickly to any emails she sent.
“I’m just happy it worked out the way it did,” Katie says. “My vet said the worst case scenario is you’ll have a three-legged goat. … I was very, very happy that it did not end up that way.”