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breath­ing noise that can per­sist af­ter a pros­thetic laryn­go­plasty. He would still be able to whinny us­ing the in­tact vo­cal cord on the right side of his lar­ynx.

So two days af­ter his pri­mary surgery, Cory the Brave stepped into the stocks for an en­do­scopic laser ven­tricu­lo­cordec­tomy. The com­puter screen showed his hand­some new lar­ynx as well as the vo­cal cord that drooped across it. Through the en­do­scope, Hack­ett and her team in­serted the long flex­i­ble tip of their diode laser, a tool that has rev­o­lu­tion­ized hu­man and an­i­mal medicine. Watch­ing the en­do­scopic screen, sur­geons laser tis­sue out of in­ter­nal ar­eas without ex­ter­nal in­ci­sions or gen­eral anes­the­sia.

As Hack­ett sep­a­rated the vo­cal cord from its moor­ings with her laser spark, smoke seeped from Cory’s nos­trils. I’ve heard dif­fi­cult horses called “fire­breath­ing dragons,” but this was a first.

“Couldn’t the vo­cal cord have been re­moved while Cory was un­der gen­eral anes­the­sia to re­build the lar­ynx?” I asked. “Yes,” Hack­ett said with a twin­kle in her eye, “but we didn’t want to blow him up.” She ex­plained that in­halant anes­the­sia con­tains flammable oxy­gen. And the laser spark … Aha. Tense un­til that point, we all laughed in comic re­lief at my in­ad­ver­tent sug­ges­tion of blow­torch­ing Cory’s throat.

Hack­ett and her res­i­dent con­tin­ued mov­ing the laser in tiny brush strokes to cut away the vo­cal cord and sur­round­ing tis­sue. As they burned, they held the tis­sue tightly with lit­tle tweez­ers---er, bron­choe­sophageal grasp­ing for­ceps---that reached all the way up Cory’s nose and into his throat. Vo­cal cord tis­sue is tough, re­quir­ing a tight hold and an hour of laser ab­la­tion. In the end, Hack­ett fished out a lump of tis­sue about a quar­ter-inch wide and an inch long. It looked like raw steak with a line of gris­tle down one side.

Af­ter a week of hos­pi­tal care, Cory was re­leased. The fi­nal bill came to $2,796, in­clud­ing un­ex­pected costs for a near-colic fol­low­ing gen­eral anes­the­sia. Both of us were tired, hun­gry and weak.

Hack­ett told me that Cory must eat from ground level for the rest of his life. This re­duces the chance that he will in­hale par­ti­cles of food through the open lar­ynx and into his lungs. Ir­ri­tants like dust and am­mo­nia must be avoided. For the next six weeks, he would need mul­ti­ple med­i­ca­tions sev­eral times daily and would have to be kept in a stall and hand-walked slowly for 10 min­utes twice a day. I ex­plained that Cory is more likely to re­lax with ac­cess to his small pad­dock ---in­door con­fine­ment ag­i­tates him. Hack­ett con­sented.

Still, she warned, Cory must not move faster than a calm walk for six

For the next six weeks, he would need mul­ti­ple med­i­ca­tions sev­eral times daily and would have to be kept in a stall and hand-walked slowly for 10 min­utes twice a day.

weeks, em­pha­siz­ing that “the area needs time to heal and scar down to be­come se­cure.” She added that quiet re­cov­ery pre­vents com­pli­ca­tions re­lated to anes­the­sia, sur­gi­cal lo­ca­tion and the size of the pros­the­sis. All of which sounds great, but keep­ing an off-the-track Thor­ough­bred calm is like telling a bird not to fly. I ex­plained that

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