Friday, 2 December 2011

The curate's egg

As you know, Zan went home last week and it was exciting to hear from his owner that he'd been seen by his vet.  
The ideal, as far as Project Dexter is concerned, is for horses to be re-assessed once they are home by the same vets who performed the original lameness assessment but we live in the real world and its often not practical for this to happen - sometimes horses have moved, sometimes vets have moved and sometimes it just doesn't happen because the logistics are too complex.  But it remains the only way of getting an objective comparison done. 

When Zan left here, I was pretty happy with his soundness overall, and to me he looked ok on a circle - this is his footage from just before he went home and he had been at this level for a while.

However, when his vet assessed him he concluded that Zan was 1/10 lame on a circle in trot.  Although I would normally find this incredibly disheartening, there is more to the story - which explains why I'm really quite pleased...Sarah sent this email:

"He came to the conclusion he is 1/10 lame. However, I do feel his lameness test was unfair. The concrete at my yard is awful, uneven, potholes you name it! and he had me trot him in
straight line then lunge him in a 10m circle. I would never, ever trot my horse on that ground let alone in a tight circle! so I am not surprised he found it hard...

He didn't however check him in the school on soft surface which I think he is fine on. He did comment he had more heel though.

Took him out for a hack with Cristina and Frankie yesterday and he felt fine. We stayed at walk but he handled the gravel paths and tarmac on roads brilliantly. 

Have also been working him in school doing short durations on 20m circles in trot and canter and he has moved so nicely. Won't be letting his comments put off how much better he is now... Grrrr that has
really annoyed me today!!"

Now, the vet has a perfect right to test a horse on any surface he feels appropriate, and if the original lameness assessment was done on uneven concrete (though I don't think it was!) then its only fair to reprise the test on a similar surface.

I will say though that Zan - only a few months ago - had soles so thin that even walking on our smooth concrete lane made him hobble, and treading on a tiny piece of (rounded) gravel was enough, in the early days, to puncture his sole and draw blood.   So all in all, if he trotted a 10m circle on lumpy pot-holed concrete and was 1/10 lame, I still reckon thats an enormous leap forward in his soundness - I hope you agree.  Its a shame, as the Project Dexter results will now record Zan as 1/10 lame, but the vet's word is law.

Of course, if Sarah was hoping to compete in high level dressage on a lumpy concrete surface with potholes then we might have concerns, but since she is happy to school on a good surface, on which he is sound, I don't think it will cause a functional problem for Zan's future career.

Meanwhile I've had good updates from Lea, on Taz:

"We do 3-4 miles of roads each day with another 2-3 miles of grass and tracks" and, courtesy of his new trailer, rides on the beach: "Taz went on his first trip to the beach on Tuesday, what a good boy he was too. I don't think he's ever been to a beach before, the big open space with noisy wet stuff - very exciting. He managed a controlled walk along the beach for about a mile and half then we went to the waters edge. So funny, he's watch the tiny wave lapping at the beach and as soon as the water looked like touching him we'd dance sideways or backwards whichever was appropriate! He would happily paddle in the pools and streams as the tide went out but the moving stuff was a different matter. Then we did a bit more walking followed by posh trotting, especially when he had an audiance of dog walkers! "

and Matt on the Original Flynn, who has also had a conversation with his vet:

"I told Duncan [the vet] that I thought vets should actively encourage owners with horses with Navicular/DDFT to, at least, consider barefoot rehab!

Anyway, on a more important note, Flynn is still getting better. He is very happy on the roads and I can now even take him into the woods (the ground is quite challenging here - quite hard, rocky and uneven in places, the scourge of "navicular" horses). I am also doing  bit on the lunge and he's looking the best he has done for 18 months or more. He's level on both reins in a circle on all strides. 

He's still out 24/7 at the moment. The ground is getting wetter and the shorter days inevitably mean less road work, so I'm half-expecting a few issues over winter. Having said that I am also half-expecting everything to be OK. That speaks volumes about how well his rehab has gone, and is going, so far! I'll send you a full update soon. "

I have a huge smile on my face reading these emails and a warm glow despite the nasty weather and Zan's lumpy concrete assessment - I don't think either he or Sarah will let it put them off!


jenj said...

I wonder how many horses at Zan's barn would trot 100% sound on a 10 meter circle on a lumpy concrete surface? Hrmph.

I am glad to hear that both Zan and Original Flynn are doing so well!

cptrayes said...

Campero has had one day of stiffness, which wore off in ten minutes, in the last seventeen months. Since your work inspired me to take him on 24 hours before his appointment with a lethal injection, I think he should count amongst your sucesses.


Nic Barker said...

Jen, that's my feeling, TBH - if you trot a horse on an unlevel surface its not going to appear "sound" because it won't be able to trot level, no matter how comfortable it is on its feet. Oh well(!)...

C - ah, thank you :-) Brilliant to hear that Campero is doing so well. I really wish that Project Dexter could include all the non-Rockley horses, as well as the ones we rehabbed before 2008, but without getting the original vets' assessments I can't think of how to do it.

dreams579 said...

Hi Nic,

as I'm sure you are more than aware, there are so few equine vet studies of a decent scientific quality, let alone of a long term nature - if you could get those pre-2008 horses and they are still sound and in work now 3+ years down the line, it would certainly add a much stronger weight to the evidence, and obviously, given the understandable lack of a 'control' group, simply the more horses you can get data for the better. i don't see why though, if you still have contact details for owners, you couldnt go back to them and ask them to contact their vet to send you their history. the vets should still have it, so doubt it would be an impossible task - though it might take a bit of paper work ;)

happy to discuss next time I'm down to visit Nico, and I'll have a bit more of a think about it all - my undergrad dissertation was looking at the effect of different treatments on dorsal displacement of the soft palate and what level of performance racehorses returned to afterwards, so some of the problems you are facing are definitely ones I've seen before!