A five-year-old Missouri Foxtrotter horse got a tattoo on Monday (Aug. 11), but it wasn't cosmetic---it was to save his right eye.
Ace's owner Beverly Bundren said she knew when she bought him two years ago that the ulcerations around his eye may turn into cancer one day. She said the connection between her and Ace was undeniable, and she bought him and immediately started treatment. Bundren said Ace's right eye has too little pigmentation, so every time he is in the sun, his eye becomes burned and he gets sores.
She said she took him to Dr. Gary France at the Pea Ridge Veterinary clinic to get his opinion on how to save his life.
"I said let's do what we have to do, and he said well if we can get it to heal, then we can maybe tattoo it....and I said okay," Bundren said.
Fayetteville tattoo artists Jon Ross and Buzz Gaither were called in to work on Ace --- the first horse, or even animal, they had ever tattooed.
"It was such a humanitarian cause," Ross said, "To be able to bring this skill and crossover into the livestock world, and to actually help an animal."
Ross said they tattooed black around Ace's eye so light would be absorbed and not reflected, much like athletes put black paint until their eyes to not be blinded by stadium lights. The procedure took only 40 minutes.
"It looks absolutely natural," Ross said, "Ace hasn't had any problems since the procedure, so we are going to say it's a complete success."
Bundren said while her horse was under the needle, she could only think about how excited she is for Ace's future.
"The fact that he can not have to stay in the shade during the heat of the day, and hopefully this will completely keep him from having the ulcerations anymore...if not, we will tattoo some more," Bundren said.
She said she hopes the procedure done on Ace will give hope to other horse owners who may have a similar problem. Bundren said if a drastic procedure like tattooing had not been done, she may have one day lost her best friend to cancer.