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Molly, the pony with a prosthetic leg, inspires wherever she goes

June 16, 2009 |  8:13 pm

Molly the pony survived Hurricane Katrina and the amputation of her leg. She's now fitted with a prosthetic and gets along fine! For those whose family, friends and coworkers aren't into sending forwarded e-mails, it may be necessary to introduce Molly the pony, whose story made the rounds a while back

Kaye Harris, who owns a pony farm north of New Orleans, rescued Molly and other animals displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  At the time, Molly was an average, four-legged pony -- but in tough times and close quarters, a dog also rescued by Harris mauled her.  Molly sustained numerous injuries to her head, neck, abdomen and legs.

"One of her legs was so bad she could hardly stand," Harris told CBS News.  She worried that Molly, a 15-year-old Pony of the Americas, might not survive; fortunately, she turned to Louisiana State University's veterinary school for help.

"Amputation is not commonly done on a horse or pony," said Dr. Rustin Moore, director of LSU's Equine Health Studies program. "The main reason is that adult horses are not very good at living on three legs because the opposite leg of the one missing usually fails."  But since veterinarians had little hope for Molly's recovery without the procedure, her right front leg was eventually amputated below the knee. 

Soon she was fitted with a prosthetic replacement and now gets along like a champ.  "It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a three-legged horse," said Dr. Allison Denny-Barca, a veterinarian who worked with Molly after her injuries and continues to see her for check-ups. 

Molly has become a source of inspiration for many humans who, like her, have lost limbs due to injury or illness.  Earlier this month, she attended the No Barriers festival in Miami, an annual event that uses adaptive technologies to help people with disabilities enjoy outdoor activities such as scuba diving, cycling and kayaking.  There she met Army Spc. Chris Miller, whose right leg was amputated after being injured in Iraq last fall. 

Molly also spreads her unique brand of cheer to children who have similar challenges (for a great video of the pony in action, check out CBSNews.com), and her story has even been made into a children's book.

Photo: Molly with Army Spc. Chris Miller at the No Barriers Festival in Miami. Credit: Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

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