Barrel Racing Team Overcomes Dual Disasters To Help Kids With Cerebal Palsy

March 30, 2011

Skeet Davis and his big Paint horse, Boomer, are on a mission — thanks in part to a North Escambia area veterinarian and farrier.  Although they are a competitive National Barrel Horse Association team, their hearts are devoted to helping kids with cerebral palsy.

Since 2004, Davis has been organizing benefit barrel races for United Cerebral Palsy, and every summer finds Skeet and Boomer at “Camp Smile” in Mobile, Alabama.  There they brighten children’s lives by giving every child a ride on gentle Boomer.  Equipped with a special custom-made saddle that provides increased support and security, these children — even those in wheelchairs — are able to experience the thrill of riding Boomer.

With the help of Camp Smile counselors, each child is gently secured into the saddle. Then Skeet leads Boomer around the campground, the horse stepping softly to provide smooth rides for his precious cargo.  For Skeet, the father of three, this work has special significance; his youngest daughter has cerebral palsy.

Two freak accidents nearly destroyed the Davis and Boomer goodwill efforts.  In October 2008, Skeet came home one day to find that Boomer wasn’t waiting for him at his usual spot.  Something was wrong.  Skeet found Boomer standing in the lane to the barn, and there was blood everywhere.  Boomer had been playing with deer outside his fence line and caught his foot in the one strand of barbed wire that Skeet kept strung along the bottom of the fence to keep the coyotes from catching ducks in his pond.  Boomer’s hoof was almost completely severed. Skeet immediately hauled his horse to Boomer’s vet in Grand Bay.  Dr. McCoy x-rayed the foot, cleaned it and surgically removed two barbs that had become imbedded deep in the foot.

Boomer’s accident destroyed Skeet’s hopes to ride him in the 2008 National Barrel Horse Association World Championships in Augusta, Georgia.  However, through the generosity of a friend, Skeet was able to compete on a borrowed horse.  But, Skeet’s problems had only begun.  On his second run in the show, a miscue between horse and rider sent Skeet crashing into the ground.  He had sustained what is called an “open-book”  hip fracture, one that kills more than 50% of it’s victims.  Fortunately, the horse show was only minutes from a major teaching hospital with a world-renowned specialist in pelvic fractures.  Skeet was in the right place at the right time.  Working quickly, the medical team was able to save Skeet’s life and repair his hip.  But, the severity of the injury was going to keep Skeet off horses for quite a while.

When Skeet was released from the hospital, he was determined to make sure that both he and Boomer were rehabilitated successfully.  By January of 2009, Boomer was still very lame from his injury and Skeet was beginning to fear that he’d never be able to ride his horse again, much less continue their commitments to helping children with cerebral palsy.

But, fellow barrel racers urged Skeet to take Boomer to the Lee Veterinary and Podiatry Clinic in Atmore, Alabama.  There, Dr. Hank Lee and certified journeyman farrier Jim LaClaire of Beulah have joined forces to diagnose and treat lame horses, combining astute diagnosis and surgical interventions with innovative horse podiatry.  Every Friday, the clinic parking lot is full of stock and horse trailers who travel to see the vet-farrier team from as far away as Tallahassee and upper Alabama.  Skeet hoped that something could be done for Boomer.

After examining the horse, the Lee Clinic team had an answer.  They constructed a therapeutic shoe for Boomer, filling in the lost hoof wall with epoxy.  They had essentially created a partially artificial foot to evenly support Boomer’s weight while his natural hoof wall recovered and regrew.  With his new foot and shoe, Boomer was ready to get back into action.  It took Skeet a little longer to heal, but now they are both back to barrel racing.  Best of all, they have returned to their mission of giving children with cerebral palsy a chance to ride.

Boomer’s recovery from his disastrous injury is testimony to the love of his owner and the cutting-edge experience of the Lee Veterinary and Podiatry Clinic.  As for Skeet, he’s doing what he’s always done; he makes plans and continues his mission.  Currently, he is working to raise $1,800 to buy another custom saddle, so that more these special needs children can enjoy the thrill of riding a horse.  Donations would be welcome!  Skeet Davis’ phone number is (251) 865-1000. He and Boomer can be found at 14775 Burnham Road in Grand Bay, Alabama, 36541.

Story and photographs by Janice M. LeCocq, freelance writer and photographer, Century.


15 Responses to “Barrel Racing Team Overcomes Dual Disasters To Help Kids With Cerebal Palsy”

  1. Kandi on March 30th, 2011 8:55 pm

    Every year Skeet goes up to NBHA Youth World with all the kids from Alabama NBHA. He cooks for them, he cheers for them, he wipes their tears if need be and generally mentors them through the whole week and makes sure they know that he is proud of them for working so hard to qualify to get there. He doesn’t have to go he chooses to and all of us parents love him for being there for us too. Dr. Lee and Jim LaClaire make sure our kids horses are in the best possible shape for a long week of barrel racing against some of the finest Youth riders from all over the World. Yes, kids from the USA, Canada, Italy, Puerto Rico, etc… show up for this. These professionals are the mainstays of our barrel racing family and unsung heroes in our eyes. Thank you Skeet, Dr. Lee and Jim LaClaire for caring enough to give the very best of yourselves to all of our kids and horses.

  2. retha milstead on March 30th, 2011 8:29 pm

    thank god for people that want to save need to be around keeps them out of trouble and for handicap kids its wonderful to watch their faces. dr.lee and his staff are wonderful.we use them all the time.hank lee saved a 4 day old colt that we were raising cause his mother was killed. he is 6 months old now thanks to our good vet.

  3. Flomatongirl on March 30th, 2011 8:01 pm

    I love that! I have a friend that has cerebral palsy and she is VERY smart. She is in enrichment with me. She is my BEST friend. :) God bless everyone.

  4. Cathy West on March 30th, 2011 5:23 pm

    Mr. Skeet Davis is, without a doubt, one of the most dedicated directors I have ever known in barrel racing. He is supportive and attentive to each and every one of his district members-I’ve seen him grilling food at our State Finals on several occasions, inviting not only his district members, but anyone who cared to eat with him. He is a fine gentleman and a truly good person.

  5. AL on March 30th, 2011 2:38 pm

    I use Dr. Weekly in Pace for my horses and love him and his staff dearly,. I have heard great things about Dr. Lee as well (and definitely Jim LaClaire!!) and I am grateful they were able to help out this dynamic duo!

  6. Just is on March 30th, 2011 11:34 am

    I have visited Dr. Lee’s facility. He may work on dogs and cats too, but he has what is without a doubt, the finest equine veternary facility I have ever seen. There seemed to be a LOT of equipment that had been built strictly for surgeries and other proceedures on horses. There is probably not another facility like this one in the S.E.
    It’s also easy to see that Dr. Lee has a genuine love of this animal.

  7. MQ on March 30th, 2011 10:30 am

    Happy ending to a sad story. God is good.

  8. Bill L on March 30th, 2011 10:03 am

    Wonderful story William, thanks for much for all the work you do for our end of the county. My daughter has used Dr. Lee with her horses, great work from him and his assistants. God is good all the time and this is one story about His goodness.

  9. Fellow BarrelRacer on March 30th, 2011 10:00 am

    Also, a BIG THANK YOU to Dr. Lee and his staff!!! They are always amazing!!!

  10. Fellow BarrelRacer on March 30th, 2011 9:59 am

    Great job Skeet!!!! Thank you for all you do to promote the barrel racing world and also always being there to help those in need!

  11. interested reader on March 30th, 2011 9:41 am

    What a heart-warming story. Being in the right place at the right time was no accident. OUR GOD IS GOOD! We use Lee Vet Clinic for our little furry friend and Dr Lacy is the best vet we have ever used. Have not needed Dr. Hank but have heard many, many people who have horses say that he is the best. Thanks to all the ones who helped this srory have a happy ending. GOD BLESS YOU!

  12. Thank You! on March 30th, 2011 9:07 am

    William. Thank you so much for publishing stories like this, It lets people know that there are great things going on out there. (NOT JUST BAD) It is wonderful that there are people out there that does things like this out of the goodness of their hearts and expect nothing in return.
    To the rest of us out there we shuld follow their example and atleast say or do something good for someone out there today. You will be supprised how good it will make both of you feel and how it can make a difference in someones life,

  13. justmy2cents on March 30th, 2011 7:31 am

    WONDERFUL story! Thanks you guys for doing what you do

  14. whitepunknotondope on March 30th, 2011 7:12 am

    Great story! This is the kind of news I like to read. Thanks to Skeet and Boomer for actively providing joy to children.

  15. Believer on March 30th, 2011 6:56 am

    What a great story! Without a doubt horses are magical and therapeutic riding is a great therapy for anyone disabled or not. I’m glad both have fully recovered and are back doing the work God intended for them. I’m positive God will be using their story of overcoming serious injuries as testimony in their work. I personally use Dr. Lee for my horses, and have nothing but positive things to say about him and his staff.