Susan and Robert Gilliland describe the newest addition to their family as a "blessing." Chalee's Dream Jet - Jet for short - was born to their beloved mare, Josie in May.
Josie underwent surgery at Purdue University's Large Animal Hospital to remove an ovarian tumor four years ago. When she became pregnant at age 18, the Gillilands brought her back to the veterinary team they trusted.
It appeared that Josie may have complications, but according to Dr, Gillian Haanen, her labor was unremarkable. Despite the easy birth, the vets noticed that Jet was struggling to walk or even stand. They discovered he had been born with malformed rear legs, forcing him to walk on his hind legs instead of his hooves.
Luckily, Jet was in the right place! Dr. Haanen and her team fitted the foal with special shoes to help him stand upright and strengthen his ligaments. Three months later, on August 6, Jet was walking normally and ready to head home!
Jet was named for the Gillilands' 11-year-old daughter Chalee who passed away in 2012 from Cystic Fibrosis. Josie served as Chalee's physical and emotional therapy horse.
"Horses and barrel racing were her physical therapy and life support," Susan Gillilam told WTHR News. "They set her free."
Chalee dreamed of seeing her precious Josie have a baby. Now that Jet is here, the Gillilands see him as a blessing - even if he can never be a barrel racer like his mother.
"We don’t mind that Jet isn’t a barrel racer," said Susan. "This is what Chalee would have wanted."
The Gillilands have created the Chalee Gilliland Foundation to help other children and adults living with cystic fibrosis.
H/T to WTHR News
Featured Images via YouTube/Purdue University