Early last week, before Barbaro was diagnosed with the complication of laminitis in his left hind foot and with an infection in his broken right hind leg, Dr. Kathleen Anderson said the Kentucky Derby winner was letting his doctors know something was wrong.
"We're always monitoring blood work and X-rays," said Anderson, Barbaro's personal veterinarian. "But the foremost way he lets us know how he is managing is by his comfort level. You can tell by his demeanor how he is doing. Has he stopped eating? Is his head down? Is he looking poorly? Early last week, he was depressed, you could see it. He's good about putting the word out."
The word Barbaro is putting out now is that he is doing well.
For the eighth straight day in his update, Dr. Dean Richardson said Barbaro had another restful night and remained in stable condition yesterday with good vital signs.
"We continue to monitor him closely and he is responding as well as can be expected to treatment," said Richardson, the chief of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.
Barbaro remains in the intensive care unit of the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals, where he is attempting to recover from the broken right hind leg he suffered in the Preakness on May 20, and from the complication of laminitis in his left hind foot.
The hospital said the next update on Barbaro will come Monday, unless there is a significant change in the 3-year-old's condition.
While Barbaro's comfort is helped by the sling he wears several hours a day, it is medication that masks the pain from the laminitis, one of the most painful maladies an animal can have.
The medical team's goal is to gradually reduce the painkillers and have the horse be pain-free.
"The medication will be decreased slowly," Anderson said. "He's on less today than he was yesterday. And when the report is that he had a restful night after his medication was reduced, that's an indication his physiological condition is improved.
"I'm not saying he's out of the woods, but in my opinion, he has really improved in the last week."
Anderson also said doctors are using a substance called "A-cell" on his left foot bandage. It is a membrane that helps stimulate new tissue growth. Barbaro also is being given nutritional supplements to help in the re-growing of his left hind foot, which is necessary for his survival.
In the course of his recovery, Barbaro's hoof should grow about 1 to 2 centimeters a month.