They say time flies when you are having fun but we say it is the sign of a busy lifestyle – and we will stick to that theory but whichever way you wish to view it, the weeks have definitely whizzed by. It seems hard to believe that 6 months have elapsed since the days began to noticeably shorten; as the wind and rain started winter looked set to long and bleak with Spring seeming like an eternity away but now here we are surrounded by plenty of welcoming indications that Spring is not too far away.
The relentless wind, rain and storms have certainly caused havoc in northern areas of the country and whilst Cumbria and Yorkshire hit the national news resulting in a wonderful surge of help for the flood-stricken people, folk further north seemed forgotten when huge areas of Aberdeenshire became submerged. A call to a friend near Inverurie confirmed our fears – that help was desperately needed for some retired racehorses that were knee-deep in water in sodden rugs; even those in their boxes whilst dry were paddling. Not being able to physically help ourselves we put out numerous pleas across social media and the support was tremendous with feed, bedding and a supply of rugs arriving at the deluged property. Mission accomplished!
The lengthening days also mean something else! In just over 2 weeks we will be Cheltenham bound but before we head to Prestbury we have another very important engagement – that of the Greatwood Charity Raceday on 5th March at Newbury. Greatwood is a wonderful charity which not only has a rehoming programme for former racehorses or providing life-long sanctuary for those that cannot be rehomed, the charity helps disadvantaged children and young adults special educational needs equipping them with all manner of skills so that they can cope with life. Whilst we are always on hand to assist with the horses, we also do whatever we can to help with fundraising especially for the Charity Racedays. It is time-consuming with the endless telephone calls and emails but so well-worth it.
To bid for items in the Silent Auction do please visit: http://greatwoodcharity.auction-bid.org/micro2.php
Having been with us for 3 months the decision had to be made that Moon Over Miami was not going to adapt to life as either a show horse or dressage horse as he was just too set on life in the fast lane. Not every racehorse takes to a quieter pace of life especially the older, seasoned campaigners so “Charlie” duly returned to his owner who found him a lovely hunting home, hunting being something he loved. However we were subsequently advised that Charlie very sadly suffered a fatal accident. RIP big man.
The last few months have seen an influx of horses for rehabilitative therapy as opposed to straightforward retraining. Nothing is better than the challenge of not only repairing and rebuilding horses but getting to the bottom of why they have broken in the first place; a horse that “does a leg” often does so as a consequence of another issue which has gone undetected. Not enough attention is yet given to [equine] biomechanics despite lots of talking and theorising; whilst other equestrian sports are paying increasing attention to gait analysis and the science of motion, the racing world just seems to focus on the use of heart and breathing monitors but not paying attention to actual locomotion.
One such case is that of a horse which has lesions to both front tendons which in the main is uncommon. Deemed to be “unfortunate” this situation has come about basically because the horse is heavy topped and has been going on its forehand pulling itself along instead of propelling from behind. However even though the horse is still in the early stages of repair, we can begin to correct what lays behind its incorrect way of going and carriage which in turns serves to aid the healing process by taking the loading of the fore limbs. The aim is to get this horse to a racecourse but that is a long way off. Rehab is fascinating and extremely rewarding; however we continually look to improve our skills so keeping up to date and being involved with the very latest developments in the world of veterinary science is very important so there is always material to read and lectures/seminars to attend. We are also very fortunate to have the complete range of products from FMBS Therapy Systems which complement our manual therapy skills
We currently have another horse here for Liz Prowting at the request of her racing manager, Hannah Bishop, Letsby Avenue had not been remaining sound during faster work whilst in training with Alan King; initially a hind suspensory issue was thought to be the problem but a full exam at the RVC ruled this out so the horse is here for a full rehab programme to be undertaken, so that lots of strategic pole work, miles of walking and long reining work, before a resumption of ridden work with us hopefully getting to the bottom of what has been going on.
The cheeky character that is George is a great case for us to get our teeth into. Now 8 years old, he has not been ridden for at least 4 years and has an unknown history. For the past 18 months he has been making it very clear that he was not happy about being ridden although seemingly happy with ground training. Upon arrival we were presented with a horse that had a reasonable front end but totally dropped away hindquarters; he had clearly been pulling himself along and not using his back end muscles despite all the lunge work he had had. Off to the clinic we went to rule out anything underlying’ x-rays were clear and ultra-sound only revealed some slight damage to a ligament in the back so nothing to explain the actuality of the situation. However a bone scan revealed all – an issue not only with the sacroiliac joint but the sacroiliac ligament too, which is quite unusual. The prognosis is 50-50 so we have nothing to lose but everything to gain. So during the coming weeks work is focused around encouraging George to lift his abdomen and back so that his hindquarters engage thus building strong top line muscle enabling him to carry himself correctly prior to the gradual introduction to increased amounts of weight prior to a rider getting on. Watch this space!
We are often called out to assist in emergencies and last week it was a case of a cast horse; it had clearly put up a tremendous fight to right itself as the level of injury was significant and the horse as near to death as we had ever seen one that was not ill. Whilst waiting for the vet all we could do was provide warmth and a little hydration (by moistening the mouth) along with some comforting stroking of the neck. The attending vet was absolutely brilliant; anaesthesia was the only option to the horse could be extricated from the stable but this was a ris itself as the heart-rate was so low. A pain-staking series of manoeuvres followed after which it was a waiting game to see if the horse could muster one last burst of energy to get to its feet – it did but between us we had to hold it upright whilst he regained some semblance of control over its limbs. The next task was to get it into a horsebox and to the clinic for treatment of the visible injuries; whilst it was the major swelling to the head and neck that initially were the primary concern on arrival at the clinic it was evident we were dealing with a horse was severely tied-up as the urine was nearly black! It was 3 days before the horse could be x-rayed to rule out limb/joint damage but in just 3 days the facial swelling subsided and despite fears that an eye might have been lost, these proved unfounded. Anyway we are happy to report that the horse is making an excellent recovery – and although a lengthy rest period will be required, we will be undertaking it rehab in the summer.
Our Rehoming Programme “Rehoming Racehorses – A Life After Racing” continues to grow as more people here about us. We also assist Paul Jepson, Welfare Officer to RoR by taking in vulnerable horses for assessment and rehoming but primarily we take horses straight out of training as we want to provide a service for owners and trainers. Our quest to find a larger yard has so far been unsuccessful but something will materialise.
There has been a sudden interest in our retraining book in Australia so much so that a couple have elected to import copies themselves for distribution. This is of course very good news not just on the sales front but also because the word is spreading that the ex-racehorse is very trainable – with the correct training and provided of course it is ultimately rehomed to the right person. Rehoming is a big issue and it does concern us that too many horses are being taken by very well-meaning people who sadly lack the skills for some of the more “spirited” horses. Hopefully this is something RoR will look to addressing in due course.
We are also assisting in some overseas projects but confidentiality is required so the lips are zipped but all very interesting and a privilege to be involved.
The ‘phone is always ringing, emails are received daily and we are bombarded on social media with requests for help and advice but we are of course more than happy to help as all we want is happy horses with equally happy owners so never a moment to sit and twiddle the thumbs!.
Over and Out.
Fred and Rowena
Equine Management & Training
Inc Racehorse Rehoming – A Life After Racing