Veterinarian: Only ‘Divine Intervention’ Could Have Saved Charismatic

by | 02.21.2017 | 1:01pm
Charismatic, as shown in his last JBBA conformation photo

The sudden death of dual classic winner Charismatic at Old Friends shocked fans on Sunday and left some with questions about the nature of the injury that killed him. A necropsy completed Monday indicated the stallion suffered a fatal, catastrophic fracture to his pelvis which caused a massive internal hemorrhage.

Drs. Bryan Waldridge and Rhodes Bell of Park Equine Hospital, who treated Charismatic, say it's impossible to know the exact timeline of damage to the stallion's pelvis.

“There's no way to know if there was a predisposing injury or problem, or to know what he did in the stall,” said Waldridge. “I know questions have been raised about the shipping of the horse [from Japan in late 2016] but I don't think anybody knows, or can know, if he had a problem.”

Bell, who is a surgeon at Park Equine, said catastrophic pelvic fractures are poorly surveyed in academic literature, but it's generally understood horses can and do end up with hairline fractures in the pelvis which wouldn't present as enormously painful injuries. Often, these show up as hind-end lameness which is difficult to diagnose and is treated with stall rest. Waldridge, an ambulatory physician at Park, said he has encountered a number of broodmares with evidence of old pelvic fractures that no one knew they had.


A great deal of force is needed to break a large bone such as the pelvis, according to Bell, but the femur (the top of the hind leg) joins into the pelvis at a right angle, so correctly-placed pressure can cause the femur to act as a hammer, exacerbating force on the pelvis. Waldridge suspects many of the broodmares he sees with pelvic fractures acquire the injury from playing in the field and falling, though some could have old fractures left over from their racing days. 

A necropsy exam cannot determine whether the fracture in Charismatic's pelvis was new, or an old injury lurking which may have been exacerbated from some kind of incident in his stall. The initial necropsy report suggests the pelvis incurred a trauma in the stall which damaged the internal ileac artery, a part of the blood supply running directly from the horse's aorta. 

“Talking to colleagues of mine, everybody's had a case or two in their life where they just found a horse in the stall dead, and this is what they found,” said Bell. “I think we have a little bit more information on the human side of things. These are usually people who were injured in car crashes, and it has a very high mortality in people. I don't know that too much is known about it [in horses] except this is something that happens and there's nothing you can do about it.”

Once the blood supply in this part of the body is damaged, Bell and Waldridge agreed there is nothing that can be done for a horse to repair it, even with immediate action. 

Bell and Waldridge are still awaiting a copy of the full necropsy report, but do not believe cardiac arrest played a role in the horse's injury by precipitating a fall. 

Waldridge saw Charismatic's body in his stall Sunday morning and said there was no evidence of a prolonged struggle. The stallion, pensioned at Old Friends in December, had been in good health on Saturday when Bell stopped by to see the farm's horses on a social visit. Waldridge said his death was likely quick once the damage to the artery occurred, which means even if it had taken place during a time when staff and volunteers were in the barn, there likely would have been no way to save him. 

“That injury would have occurred in minutes to seconds, so if you were on the other end of the barn, other than hearing the injury, that was all you were going to do, was hear it and see it. And no amount of intervention, short of divine intervention, was going to save the horse,” said Waldridge.

  • Susan

    Thank you for this….it helps in dealing with the shock.

  • Ida Lee

    It helps to know but not much ….

  • horsecrazy

    Tragic, just tragic. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact this this wonderful horse is gone.

    • Marilyn Shively

      I can’t either; it is incomprehensible to me.

    • Carla Parrillo

      That is the hardest part that comes from sudden death. There was no time to prepara an say goodbye
      My dad, though quite elderly when it happened, had beaten other serious illnesses, only to be taken from us quietly and unexpected during an afternoon nap.
      The hardest part was to know we didn’t get to say goodbye. …as is the case with Charismatic. So hold him with good memories, in your heart.

  • Petra

    Interesting he didn’t say that the broodmares he sees with old fractures could have sustained them in the breeding shed.

    • Mindy

      nor when they died, in relation to the injury, it read like they were old (healed over?) injuries only discovered upon their deaths & necropsies

      • Natalie Voss

        Good question, Mindy. The way I understood it from Dr. Waldridge, he has discovered evidence of an old fracture from time to time when treating a mare for a ‘dystocia,’ or difficult foaling, at which point the mares are still alive. There seems to be a change in the bone structure after it has healed from damage. When he sees these fractures, they appear to have healed some time prior, but it’s not possible to tell whether they happened during racing or in retirement. I’m not aware of cases where a pelvic fracture has arisen from breeding, but that may be possible, too.

        • Mindy

          thank you

        • Carla Parrillo

          I recently had some personal experience to learn about bone structure. And when bone quality begins to deteriorate the bone can become hollow. This discrepancy can not even be seen unless a procedure is being performed. If a vital area giving the skeletal structure support. Sooner or later the bones will begin to brake apart and cause internal damage. This is not a problem that is detectable by an exray. If discovered during a procedure and if the area of a repair shows this defect cement plugs are used to support the area. Not applicable all the time.

    • Ruffian31

      Because they can’t. There’s no way to know when they occurred, they can only speculate.

  • Michele Lemieux

    Wondering if they are looking into whether the necropsy shows this as an old vs new fracture? I’m devastated by this horses’ death.

    • Casey Phillips

      “A necropsy exam cannot determine whether the fracture in Charismatic’s pelvis was new, or an old injury lurking which may have been exacerbated from some kind of incident in his stall”

      • Erekose77

        That statement seems inaccurate, unless I’m misreading it. Certainly a full necropsy exam would be able to identify a pre-existing lesion (such as a callus) if it was an old injury or an active hotspot putting the horse at risk for a catastrophic fracture.

        • Ruffian31

          Apparently not, especially if they have had similar issues with broodmares showing up with prior pelvic injuries that were previously undetected. Even my vet and the equine surgical centers I’ve been to have told me, necropsies can only tell you what happened not when it happened or what caused it. When it happened is pure speculation on anyone’s part unless someone was right there when it occurred.

          • Erekose77

            Its been estimated that about 90% of racing-related fatalities showed evidence of pre-existing lesions at the site of injury during the necropsy. Therefore, a necropsy is able to determine if an injury is old or new. In fact, your comment about broodmares proves the point. A significant number of chronic pelvic stress fractures have been detected during the necropsies of racehorses who die from unrelated injuries.

          • Ruffian31

            Maybe but the report FROM the vets is saying they can’t determine when it happened or if it was new or an old injury, just that it was found to have been his cause or contributory cause of death. They didn’t release the entire report, just a part of it. Sure things may show up in a necropsy that weren’t found in earlier scans but the necropsy can only say something is or wasn’t there not when it could have happened. I believe that’s that point. If you don’t know there is something wrong, it’s kind of hard to test for it. What I don’t get is why people are so distraught over this and debating this into the ground. Injuries happen to horses, they’re horses, they do stuff, sometimes stupid stuff we can’t explain. And it sucks big time to lose them despite all one can do to make they don’t get hurt. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do about it. You can take all the precautions in the world and they will still find a way to get hurt. And I say this as an owner who has had some horses do some pretty extraordinary things over the years.

          • Erekose77

            Of course you can say when it happened. A healed fracture discovered on a necropsy is evidence that a fracture occurred in the past. In this case, clearly an acute fracture took place. But was it a new injury as a result of a discrete traumatic event or was it an impending fracture resulting from an underlying, pre-existing lesion? In this case, the logical presumption is the former. Charismatic was far removed from his racing days, was not in any sort of organized athletic training presumably, and there were no reports of him exhibiting lameness or generalized pain in the days prior to his death.

            As far as why people debate these things, I think most would agree that trying to prevent such episodes in the future is an ideal aspiration. In order to do that, people have to learn all they can from the unfortunate events that do take place. For example, if it was determined that the horse was cast in his stall, and struggling for an extended time period, and the horse’s struggles led to the fracture, wouldn’t that compel the facility (or a generous donor) to try and enhance their surveillance protocols?

          • WildRush

            Pelvic fractures are not like any other type of fracture in a horse and are often incredibly difficult to detect. As for future protocol in prevention: the only way to protect horses from themselves just by their shear size and fragile nature is to put them in a completely padded stall with 24/7 surveillance and that wouldn’t even solve it. That is just the nature of horse ownership and care.

          • Lehane

            Absolutely spot on, Erekose77. I’ve thought long and hard about his death and i think that your example of him possibly being cast might have occurred. Perhaps if they released the entire necropsy report many questions will be answered and the matter put to rest.

          • Wayne

            Not necessarily true. Most horses break down on the racetrack on their good leg, trying to take pressure of the bad one

          • Erekose77

            I didn’t make the number up. If 90% of racing fatalities show evidence at necropsy of a pre-existing lesion at the site of injury, how can most horses break down on their good leg (never mind that your statement implies that all horses that breakdown have a “bad leg”)?

          • Lehane

            Most horses do break down in their affected limb but i do agree with you in that some horses put more stress on their healthy leg compensating for the bad leg. I’ve looked at some necropsies which have confirmed this.
            There’s a horse i’m monitoring atm who has been changing his leg on the turns and this suggests he’s favouring the other fore which probably has an issue.

      • Casey Phillips

        I quoted the article, I didn’t make the statement. That being said, every lab report, necropsy report, radiology report I’ve ever read (and there have been quite a few), all that is reported is factual evidence seen, either grossly or microscopically. The doctor reading the radiographs, performing the necropsy, or the technician reading slides refers to what they objectively see. There is no subjective. “abnormal cluster of cells”, “none seen”, ‘abnormality of cellular wall” are all sentences I’ve read when what I really wanted to know is “is this what happened”

  • Lehane

    I don’t know if Charismatic had x-rays, etc. done upon his arrival back home but if he did, a stress fracture would’ve shown up and if no x-rays done then that’s very disappointing given he spent years racing, many years serving mares and his recent shipping. It would’ve been the first thing that should’ve been done especially when so adored by the public, people travelling to see him at Old Friends and the fact that he deserved a healthy and comfortable retirement. Thoroughly checking him out first would’ve been the priority, one would think.
    So what happened for him to have the trauma of a serious pelvic injury causing the massive hemorrhage? He wasn’t a broodmare playing in the field. Of course nothing could be done to save him given the severity of this catastrophic injury. No evidence of a prolonged struggle but there would’ve been evidence of a struggle, he would’ve been fighting for his life.
    There’s a huge amount of scientific evidence base in the necropsies that are regularly carried out on racehorses all over the world, so to imply that there’s not much information and then compare with humans in car accidents is ridiculous.
    If he didn’t suffer a cardiac failure or become cast then that makes his death even more puzzling. Obviously the question is what was the incident in his stall?

    • Ash DVM

      Due to the nature of a horse’s pelvis it is almost impossible to get complete X-rays of the pelvis especially the location of this fracture. Horses are very large and there isn’t a machine that can accurately X-ray the area. Nor are X-rays of the pelvis common place. Pelvic fractures can be unstable and as they lie beside major arteries, if they move can cause a horse to hemorrhage into their body cavity and die quickly with little to no warning or ability to do anything. He could have had an old stress fracture and kicked the wall or laid down wrong on his pelvis and loosened the fracture causing the damage to his arteries. Generally a massive loss of blood causes such a loss in ability to struggle- that no struggle is seen after finding the horse.

      And necropsys provide lots of valuable information but they don’t show all of the details as to what happened in the 5 mins prior to the event. It’s hard to accept but even if a vet had been in the stall with him, they might have prolonged his life by 5 mins.

      • Lehane

        It is possible to get an x-ray of a horse’s pelvis. It was not the aorta, it was the the internal ileac artery and initially i suggest that there would’ve been a struggle.
        With such a catastrophic injury one wouldn’t ‘prolong his life by 5 mins.’ One would immediately euthanase. If there was no pre-existing injury/condition, then i question what was this mysterious incident in his stall for his pelvis to fracture.
        In my experience, a necropsy can determine if there was a pre-existing injury of his pelvis. If there was a pre-existing injury/condition then it would take more than a kick at the wall or laying down wrong on his pelvis to result in Charismatic’s cause of death.

        • Z3nyatta

          Are you honestly trying to say that Old Friends was negligent in Charismatic’s care?

          Think about the freak injuries human athletes suffer… like the French gymnast at Rio, you land wrong in a step you’ve taken hundreds of times and that’s all it takes.

          Now let him Rest In Peace.

          • Sleeper

            There always seems to be that ONE person who doubts a report or has to play devils advocate. Lehane I am sorry but you should learn to keep some thoughts to yourself. This is very unfortunate and nothing could have been done and I believe AshDVM summed it up quite nicely.

        • Danielle Roberts

          In my time working for vets & doing research there is no way to get a readable X-Ray of the pelvis. I know many vets that would like to know your method.

          • Lehane

            There are a few other comments here that say that an x-ray revealed a fractured pelvis. As someone else pointed out, you cannot get a complete reading but obviously some x-rays of the pelvis have proved effective.

        • WT

          I was a tech at an equine hospital and it was explained to me that pelvic radiographs are difficult because of the depth of muscle surrounding the pelvis.

          • Casey Phillips

            That’s true- bone scans are more revealing. Abdominal rads show stones and sand but they’re unable to show the detail like they do with small animal or humans. When I worked at the race track hospital, even stifle rads weren’t as clear as hock or knee.

        • zenfan

          “If there was a pre-existing injury/condition then it would take more than a kick at the wall or laying down wrong on his pelvis to result in Charismatic’s cause of death.”————-
          Lehane, can you back this statement up with verifiable evidence/proof?
          It’s just a question I have.

      • Casey Phillips

        Just thinking of the mA and kVp required is mind boggling. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near that xray machine even if my lead was 10″ thick….

      • WT

        Thank you for your educated and sensible comment.

      • Lehane

        Appreciate your comment AshDVM. It seems that my friend’s racehorse was lucky when the x-rays done on him discovered a hairline fracture, after winning a big race he wasn’t right and we thought it was a problem in his hind legs but no problem there. A valuable racehorse so no expense was spared to investigate as far as possible and then they found the pelvic problem. He had the best equine vet in the country (Australia) looking after him.

    • tony a

      When you and the CSI crew find out, let us know.

      • No kidding the mass is overwhelming even with a non typical high power emiter and all the enhancer plates digital or film ya just cannot see through that much bone even from the top with the emiter underneath or vice versa tried it with one you do steal structure with.. No detail
        If it was still healing there is a remote. Remote chance you “might” get a slight indication of something going on with scilitlogrphy but getting the timing down would be a several day Process and much skill separating artifacts from bone uptake

    • Joan Wojak

      Pelvis is almost impossible to X-ray. An old fracture which might predispose to re-fracture might not even show up on a bone scan, which would be the only way to visualize the pelvis. It is not reasonable to x-ray EVERY bone in a horse’s body. A lot of radiation for low yield. As both an owner of sport horses and a radiologist, I am familiar with the issues. I discuss them often with my veterinarian. Unless someone was sitting and watching him 24/7, you might not know if he slipped and fell while turned out. Hard to tell why a horse is covered in dirt and mud. He could have cracked his pelvis and then when he went to lie down or get up in his stall, he completed the injury. Easy to tell if they struggled in a stall. I just had to euthanize a 25 year old horse of mine because he couldn’t get up after lying down in his stall. No injuries, just too weak. May have pinched something in his spine. There was plenty of evidence that he tried hard. And this happened in a barn that died regular night checks. That horse had no less than three people with him at all times once he was found; continued to try to get up until he gave up. Not pretty. Also had one slip and fall while playing (while people were watching) and come up on three legs with a fractured shoulder. It happens. My friend’s horse got annoyed by something in his stall (real or imaginary) and went to kicking. Broke his jock and had to be euthanized. Don’t cast stones unless you have figured out how to protect horses from themselves. If you have, You could retire on the patent royalties.

      • Joan Wojak

        Broke his hock, I mean. Ask any horse owner. We’ve all been there. We also have a tough-as-nails quarter horse in the barn who had a fracture in a foreleg as a 2 year old. He never limped. We found it when we felt a knot in his leg where the bone was healing.

        • Ruffian31

          We had a horse fracture her pelvis when she rolled too close to the fence and cast herself. It took us a while to get her free and we feared the worst when got her straightened out but she couldn’t get up. Luckily we were able to save her in the end, but let me tell you that 9 months of stall rest just about had her tearing everything apart.

      • Lehane

        Where did I suggest that x-rays be taken of every bone in his body? A friend’s racehorse fractured his pelvis he was given the best veterinary treatment and returned to racing. They discovered his pelvic fracture through an x-ray. In fact there’ve been a few that I know of similar to him. I’ve witnessed 2 horses fracture their pelvis during a race, impossible to repair and humanely euthanased. You are very wrong to infer that I’m casting stones here because I’m not. You also seem to assume that I’m ignorant of the equine, you have assumed wrongly. Like some others, commenting on the death of Charismatic, I have questions because the circumstances just don’t add up. In the first article it was stated that Charismatic would’ve been dead before he went down – what a pathetic and irresponsible thing to say.

        • David Sullivan

          Do you even read this junk you write before you hit post? You have questions about his death? On what authority do you have questions? Guess what. Things happen to horses. In the stall, in the paddock, while shipping, and in many more ways too numerous to mention. I’m pretty sure the people at Old Friends know more than you do about dealing with horses after years of racing, breeding, and then shipping. What’s really pathetic and irresponsible are your comments.

          • katwalk

            “On what authority do you have questions?”

            Are you serious? Gads.

          • Tiffany A

            I’ll second that

          • Lehane

            Natalie Voss wrote a very good article about Charismatic and my interpreatation (rightly or wrongly) was that these outstanding racehorses do belong to all of us.

            Eighteen Years After His Kentucky Derby, Charismatic ‘Belongs To All Of Us’ – Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

            I thought it was fantastic what was put in place for this courageous horse, he suffered that terrible multiple fractures in one of his fores in the Belmont and it’s my belief that if it hadn’t been for the quick thinking of Chris Antley preventing exacerbation of the already serious injury, Charismatic may not have survived.

            When I first saw the headline that Charismatic had died my heart sank and I immediately became upset. When I read the first article (I think there are 3) the circumstances of his death didn’t make sense to me.
            I’ve noticed that an apology has been made for the pathetic and irresponsible remark that Charismatic was dead before he went down. I’m dealing with racehorses nearly every day of the week. Horses have been found dead in their stalls due to various causes e.g. cardiac failure, sudden death that no necropsy could come to a definite conclusion.

            But, when I saw that Charismatic had died from a pelvic fracture sustained in his stall, I immediately queried that because in my experience pelvic fractures occur jumping out of the barriers/gates, during a race, during trackwork but never have I heard of it occurring in such a restricted space.

            It appears that I’ve committed a crime in asking questions, which, according to some of you, I don’t have the ‘authority’ to do that. When something doesn’t make sense to me I will always question and I make no apologies for that.

          • C L Smith

            Right or wrong, he has a right to his opinion. There will always be people with questions, even though I think both vets pretty well answered all the questions there are about this horse’s death–that can be surmised from their years of experience and the evidence at hand.

            I don’t find it the least bit strange that a horse like this had an accident in his stall that resulted in his death. To start with, horses, like people, aren’t always steady on their feet. Suppose, for the sake of argument, the horse got up or just turned around in his stall and lost his balance. Big horse slams into a wall, fracturing the femur or pelvis and lacerating the artery. Perhaps his bones were not were not in the best of condition–older horses and people CAN suffer from osteoporosis. There’s no mystery here and no conspiracy, should anyone get that in mind, either.

            Just a sad, sad occurrence for this horse, who deserved a nice, pleasant retirement.

          • Carla Parrillo

            If their was abuse or neglect inflicted on The horse One might understand all the refusal to accept what has happened to Charasmatic. From what I’m learning this farm showed care and comfort to these horses. Just to compare. …why is no one questioning the death of Luck Pulpit who collapsed during a breeding exercise and experienced sudden death by heart attack. I don’t hear any stating the breeding customs are very physically stressful on an older horse and for the sake of animal protection they should NOT be matched up as often as they are.
            I’m not. Criticizing I’m just using this as an example. And again here is another brave and heroic Champion.

        • Wayne

          First of all old friends owes you or any of the rest of you experts no explanation. They may be a non profit but their responsibility to you ends when you decide to contribute or not. Have you?
          Having been in the business of dealing with older horses and retirees I’m sure they have a better grasp of how to take care of them than almost anyone.
          Why don’t you donate the money so they can have every horse on the farm x rayed or perhaps you could come over and do barn checks every 15 minutes.
          What’s even worse is that you and and a few others are always on this forum with the same old conversation that someone has done something wrong and you know more about a horse than anyone else. You only show just how little you really know and the fact that you have never dealt with any of the situations you continually commit on. What a pathetic and irresponsible thing to do

        • Minneola

          It appears that some do not believe that questions should be asked. If that is the case, it appears that they would rather just live in an ignorant state and not question anything. At least Ash DVM knew how to explain the constraints in the x-raying of the pelvic region of horses. That adds to knowledge rather than just an attempt to be snarky as some other people seem to enjoy indulging in.

          • Wayne

            If you knew anything about a horse you would have known that already. That’s should be the first prerequisite to question a veterinarians word. I think it’s your ignorance that is in question here. Ask all the questions you want, but what makes me livid is these folks are out every day and night caring for horses for nothing other than their love and dedication to the horse. Don’t for a second, question the knowledge or dedication of Old Friends or their veterinarians it just exposes your ignorance

          • Minneola

            Nice snarly reply. Expected that from you.

          • Doughnut Jimmy

            Wayne – You can know a lot about a horse and not know that general anesthesia is required for pelvic films. WIth all the modern tools we have these days, it remains true, but not obvious.

        • Doughnut Jimmy

          Hold on everybody! THere is nothing to fight about here.

          Lehane – In your post you said.”I don’t know if Charismatic had x-rays, etc. done upon his arrival back home but if he did, a stress fracture would’ve shown up and if no x-rays done then that’s very disappointing given he spent years racing, many years serving mares and his recent shipping.

          Joan Wojak – Took your post to mean that something was not done that should have been done. Frankly so did I. Apparently, that was not your menaing. Joan explained why taking those x-rays was not indicated by anything in his known history. You also asked, “So what happened for him to have the trauma of a serious pelvic injury causing the massive hemorrhage? He wasn’t a broodmare playing in the field.” Again, even though it was not apparently what you meant, that statement could easily be misinterpreted to imply that you thought that Old Friends should have have a better eye on him or something on those lines.

          It is often very hard in internet posts, to correctly interpret the intended tone of someones words.

          Pretty soon a war of words commences.

          FWIW – To get x-rays of the pelvis on an adult horse, especially of good enough quality to fine a hairline stress fracture, usually requires general anesthesia. Pelvic fractures are rare, and there was no known history of trauma. Apparently he was not lame. There was truly no reason on earth to subject Charismatic to general anesthesia to look for a pelvic fracture. He could just as easily has a hairline fracture to a femur, tibia, or radius. But with no signs, there would have been no reason to x-ray any portion of him.

          As a veterinarian, I can tell you that if this horse had been under my care, and arrived sound, I would not have taken a single x-ray.

          I think we can all agree that this was a very unfortunate event. But Charismatic had an accident pure and simple. Even on the off chance that he did arrive with a stress fracture, that too would have been due to an accident. And if they knew he had a fracture, they only thing more than stall rest that they could possibly have done, was to keep him tied so he could not lie down.

          Let us all morn his passing together.

          • Minneola

            Thank you for your comments. That is the way to reply to others (including me) who may not understand all of the details. Instead of being snarky, you were informative, And, yes, sometimes, it is hard to discern the intentions of written words. Were they meant to criticize or just asking questions? You did not make assumptions but went ahead and proceeded from a positive standpoint. Nice to see civility!

          • OopsyDaisy3

            Thank you Donut Jimmy. You always are the prince of correctness no matter the subject. Linda in Texas

      • WT

        Your comment makes good sense, Joan. Lehane, not so much.

    • Minneola

      I might have missed it but the other part of this is whether there were any x-rays done by a U.S. vet before he left Japan. It would seem that this would have been prudent if, for no other reason, to know what condition Charismatic was in before he was transported back to the U.S. I’ve heard of other stall accidents but no one has really explained the details. Perhaps, someone can provide them to us.

    • Carla Parrillo

      I know from family experience. That hairline fractures are very hard to detect. Only until the area becomes so frahil that it finally tairs apart all at once. None fragments can move around and hit vital organs. I had a two relatives a severe osteoporosis the bone quality became so poor that both of them suffered falls causing serious injury. What was explained was the fall did not fracture the hip or the thigh joint. The deterioration of the bones came first and that caused the fall. I can imagine this in a horse with a problem no saw until it hit all at once.

  • Julia Sisoumankhara

    I really appreciate this closure, it has been eating me alive since hearing of his death. I am truly saddened by his death. I am so fortunate I went to see him at Old Friends to finally meet him. He was such a magnificent horse. He had so much personality. When I was there Michael was feeding him treats out of his mouth. He was a little on the ornery stallion side, he was definitely a biter. Luckily I took a video of my friend petting his nose and he threw his head to the side like ugh I didn’t get to bite you. It was quite humorous. Every time we would walk past him he would run straight up to us. It was such a magical day, one that I will never forget. I hope Chris Antley is right by your side to welcome you home sweet angel, you are loved and missed dearly. May the loss of a horse or animal be one of the worst of all. With much love, Julia..

    • OopsyDaisy3

      How lucky for you Julia that you were able to interact with Charismatic. Strong to the end i would have to say about him. A stallion in every sense of the word. Michael loved this big fella and spent 10 years of his life getting him to Old Friends. Thank you for your story and look into Charismatic’s personality. Linda in Texas

      • Julia Sisoumankhara

        Thank you so much for your kind reply. It truly means a lot to me. I am so lucky, I was able to see him the last month of his life. It was truly one day I will never forget. I would love to share the video I took of him. It would bring a smile to so many faces for those who truly loved Charismatic as much as I did. With all the love and respect to the racing family.

        • OopsyDaisy3

          You are very welcome Julia. Perhaps you could send Michael the video you took so it could be placed for all to enjoy on The Old Friend’s Facebook Page. I spent Valentine’s evening watching videos Of Michael introducing visitors to Charismatic, how truly overjoyed he was and so proud that Charismatic was there as he fed carrots to him. I watched at least 2 hours of videos of Old Friends, i could watch them all day. Many videos are on You Tube. The 2 hours i spent that evening were the most enjoyable i allowed myself the pleasure of simply being immersed in a passion i have held for all horses since the third grade in elementary school. Luckily my dad realized my love of horses was not fleeting. He bought 5 for me and they all lived to be in their late 20’s. Linda

  • Michael Castellano

    Very sad. In humans, the aging process can also severely weaken bones. Don’t know if this also happens in horses, but it seems a reasonable hypothesis. A normally uneventful bump in the stall could have produced the fracture had the bone become brittle.

  • Z3nyatta

    I am so sad I will never meet Charismatic. He and Real Quiet ignited my love of racing.

  • Bayemma

    I lost a horse to a fractured pelvis some years ago. There was not a mark on him. He looked perfect and there were no skid marks in the paddock or broken wires or rails. The only reason I knew there was a problem was that he wouldn’t come down for his evening meal and he loved his food. He was 21 but he looked about 8. An X-ray disclosed the fracture.

  • Kathy Young

    I often wonder about long-backed horses and the extra stress placed on their lower backs and hips with demands of racing, jumping, and other very active disciplines. Charismatic wasn’t as long-backed as some, but he wasn’t as compact, either. I guess in the long run it doesn’t matter. The big beautiful boy will be very much missed. So sad.

  • Ruffian31

    What a wonderful picture of this beautiful horse. That is how I will remember him. Still very sad to lose him like this and it’s just a constant reminder of why we should cherish the creatures and things we love while we can, because we just never know how long we will have with them. RIP Charismatic.

  • Always Curious

    Maybe he came home for a farewell and to be buried here. I do believe he was loved and well cared for in Japan, but he was Very Special to us. While we find his death tragic to us now, in the big picture I appreciate that his final resting place is here. He may easily be forgotten in Japan due to his poor results as a sire. He will never be forgotten here. He will have a monument here that will be a memorial for a racing star long after we are gone. Possibly it is a divine intervention of a different kind.

  • slvrblltday

    Thanks for reporting this additional info and deepest condolences to those that worked with him.

  • Linda Parker-Fedak

    Are there video cameras in the stalls? If there were and the cameras were taping each horse or some horses, that would have shown what happened. I know that this can be expensive, but maybe money can be donated or raised for that. Just a thought… What an awesome horse. He will be missed.

  • Michael Keller

    It is sad, but perhaps somewhat expected, that in the wake of a tragic death, there will always be people who cast aspersions, second guess, play Monday morning vet, etc. — and do so under the guise of innocent comments or questions. This is not some far off, unknown, sub-par operation. People read an article and say “it doesn’t make sense” or “it doesn’t add up” — and you know what, that’s fine if you feel that way. So be it. Whether your “opinion” is qualified or not is one issue. Expect to get called out on that. Another is, don’t expect everyone to agree with your mindset. So, if you feel the need to come forth with that type of mindset — I am sorry you feel that way.

    No different than you “questioning” — people are going to question you, your qualifications, your motives, and so forth. This was a horse — a Horse of the Year — that was loved by all. One who captured the hearts of people worldwide when tragedy struck. Like many, I was there that day. It was a day I’ll never forget, and while I wasn’t a “fan” of his prior to his becoming the top three year old in the country, everyone became a fan of his after — from the moment he came to a halt, to Chris Antley holding his injured leg, the surgery, his recovery, and then his stallion career.

    His death, while sad, also offers hope and promise — that great Champions will always have a place “here” and that there will always be people who will want to “bring them home” to live out their days with the dignity and respect they deserve. We can only hope all horses have this.

    • Wayne

      Your dedication to horses is only surpassed by your writing ability. If people don’t understand the degree of caring you have for your job after reading your response it doesn’t matter anyway. Many many thanks to you and all the folks at Old Friends for all you do. I know it’s not for the money. God bless

    • zenfan

      [insert hands clapping]

    • OopsyDaisy3

      Well stated Michael Keller, add my name to your list of those who appreciate everything good and respectful of the great ones who are lucky enough to fine their way back to the United States. Through the untiring efforts of Michael Blowen. Linda in Texas

    • Carla Parrillo

      Michael, you have expressed this perfectly and to the point. I guess what is said is true. We all deal with death differently. Some try to accept it and are grateful to get closure. As in this case the necropsy reprt. Then there are some who refuse to accept death, especially one that occurs suddenly and unexpected. I agree that is sad to lose this wonderful horse the way we did.
      Bone problems like this can’t be explained in humans let alone animals, especially one who spent a life time career running and impacting his joints and hip as he did. As humans we just get these conditions and attribute it to age, or family heredity and learn to live with it. Athletic animals like,horses and dogs just add risk to what could happen.
      This is what makes them not only Champions but heroes as well
      Perhaps it was Charasmatc’s destiny and lucky fate when he was found in Japan and returned home. He got to be home where he belonged, and to live his final days with love and attention from a place like this. So yes! As you just said, we. Will put him to rest, and always honor and respect another Equine hero and Champion.

  • Susan Hulse

    Old friends do amazing work for these old racehorse warriors who we all love and cherish they are all as sad as us I’m just glad he wasn’t slaughtered, remember ferdinand and excelsor rip beautiful chestnut boy xx

  • gammyp6

    I don’t know if we will ever know exactly what happened….but by all accounts his death seemed to have been somewhat peaceful….and I am going by the accounts of those who saw him deceased in his stall…..and thank you OF, staff and Michael Blowen for your part in taking care of our retired horses.

  • A lot of horses have died recently for various different reasons (Royal Delta, Lucky Pulpit, Louis Quatorze), just to name a few. It’s quite sad. You don’t get over losing one before you find out about another…..

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