Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Olympic (Laminitic) Hoof: Dressage horse diagnosed with laminitis before competition begins

A dressage horse representing South Africa has been withdrawn from the Olympics after developing laminitis at the Olympic Equestrian Center outside Tokyo. ( file photo; this is not the horse described in the article.)

It's been a long road to Tokyo for the world's Olympic equestrian competitors. They've faced Covid lockdowns worldwide, an Equine Herpes Virus outbreak in Europe, Brexit horse transport regulation changes in the United Kingdom, and floods just miles from the quarantine center in Aachen, Germany. 

But for one rider, the challenges are just beginning: Her horse, expected to compete in dressage on Saturday for South Africa, has been diagnosed with laminitis at the equestrian center outside Tokyo.

The Oldenburg stallion Ramoneur 6 is a horse I probably would have written about even if he hadn't become lame. He is, after all, the senior equine of the entire Games and will celebrate his 19th birthday on August 4.  He has no fewer than 89 starts on his FEI record, including the Rio Olympics in 2016, and the FEI World Equestrian Games in France in 2014. 

Tokyo was to have been his last competition before retirement.

Rider Tanya Seymour  has been with the horse for 12 years. She would have been the lone South African dressage rider.

"I thought there was no better way to finish his career and for his age, he felt amazing," Seymour told her followers on Facebook on Wednesday.

“When he arrived he was doing so well. During training, he was looking fresh and feeling great," Seymour reported. "He had travelled well. When I got on him yesterday, I could sense there was something amiss. He was holding in his front feet a bit, and it felt a little odd. 

"The vet and farrier had a look at him and initially, we thought it might be a stone bruise, that he had a painful front hoof after standing on a stone.

"Unfortunately, things changed fast and he developed laminitis. I immediately withdrew him and began treating him, I had no doubts this was the right choice, his welfare comes first above all. None of the vets could say why this happened. We suspect the hay, as it's much richer than what we have at home. 

"We are giving him the best care possible and he is looking happy and should hopefully make a good recovery to enjoy his retirement back home," she finished.

The Olympic equestrian features an extensive veterinary center, staffed around the clock by veterinarians of varying specialties from around the world and a fully-stocked forge with highly experienced farriers.

Laminitis is not a common occurrence during the Olympics. I checked with Steve Teichman, farrier for the United States Equestrian Team at Olympic and international events for more than 20 years, if he had seen laminitis in a horse during the Games. "I've never heard of a horse withdrawing from laminitis. This trip is extremely stressful," he said, "so this would not be totally out of the question--highly unlikely, but not out of the question, certainly."

We'll try to get more information for you on how the stallion is doing as the Games, and his treatment, progress. 

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