Precious Cargo to World Cup Show Jumping
Bukit Jahil Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - When McGuinness, an 11-year-old Irish Sporthorse, finally arrived at the show grounds, he was exhausted, dehydrated, and running a fever. He lay down in his stall and collapsed, his head to the floor.
"Everything is compromised when you are flying, for horses and people, they experience jet lag just like you or I. It's a stress for horses just like it is for people," states Geoff Vernon, DVM, USA team veterinarian. His diagnosis for McGuinness was Shipping Fever, Pleuropneumonia, a bacterial infection of the lungs and chest cavity that is a potentially fatal disease.
McGuinness left LAX airport in Los Angeles three days earlier in excellent health. He was odds-on best horse for the US team from the West Coast to compete in the FEI World Cup finals for Show Jumping in April 2006.
To compete in a Federation Equestrian International event, the horses must be free of most medications and any foreign substances. Medicines were necessary to save McGuinness from despair. He would not be able to compete with the best in the World of Show Jumping this year.
"The shipping is the tricky part--keeping a horse healthy traveling to the other side of the world takes its toll," says Sally Ike, Managing Director, Show Jumping Sport Programs. Rich Feller's horse ran a fever upon landing and was scratched from competition, where Anthem, Laura Kraut's mount, came off feeling great. Every horse is different, like humans," says Ike.
Another US teammate was sidelined when Madison, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, tied-up on her way out of the ring upon completion of the first of four very difficult rounds.
"In an ideal situation you give the horse a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like Banamine, a muscle relaxant like Robaxan or Methocarbonal, and then generally you tranquilize the horse with Acepromozine. You want to get the blood supply back to the muscles, keep the horse quiet, limit the exercise, make the horse as comfortable as possible," says Dr. Vernon. To keep the horse eligible for FEI competition (Grand Prix), "we gave [her] a lot of fluids, and we used something called Lactinaze, which is a lactic acid inhibitor, lots of massage therapy, electromagnetic therapy, ultrasound, and Laser therapy...basically all of those physiotherapy things or complementary things. We got lucky."
Remarkably, Kent Farrington and Madison won the Saturday evening Grand Prix, yet the duo had missed the second round of the World Cup on Friday night and were eliminated. Madison was the only horse on this team that had the indoor exposure this year. She too was expected to place in the top 10. Their elimination was a deep disappointment.
The US team finished unimpressively, the best score coming from Margie Engle with a 12th place ribbon. Engle and mount Quervo Gold were admittedly green to one another and lacked recent indoor experience. The team outcome may not have been impressive but their support team and therapies were.
- Magnetic field equipment
- ReCover Cold and Heat Therapy blanket
- Cryo Boots
- Massage therapist
- Acupuncture & Chiropractic practitioner
Massage therapist Tina Butler accompanied the team to Malaysia. Tina likes to give her clients a tune-up prior to their round. "Jumpers get stiff in (their) lower necks and (they) land on one foot--30 percent is preload. I like to open up the chest and shoulders to help them get that range of motion in shoulders and their lower backs." Butler says her goal is to get the horses to "feel more attentive to the rider with less focus on themselves." If Butler is not in a stall, she can be found around the in-gate working on riders. "If I can get horse and rider on the same page we can be a winner."
Veterinarian Steve Engle, DVM, husband of competitor Margie Engle and a certified chiropractor and acupuncturist, also accompanied the team to Malaysia. Engle says his goal was to "help the horses gain a competitive edge". Using his hands instead of the veterinary bag has influenced Engle enough to make Chiropractic his primary work in his practice. His good friend Jim Kenney, DVM, introduced Engle to integrative medicines 10 years ago. Beginning his adjunctive journey with acupuncture, his true love is Chiropractic. "It fed upon itself. I fell in love with Chiropractic. It gave me more tools to work with." Dr. Engle provided Chiropractic and Acupuncture support to both McGuinness and Madison, which made a difference in their recoveries.
According to recent studies, ulcers are common in these high profile horses. Dr. Vernon says all the team horses were put on UlcerGuard© prior to shipping to Kuala Lumpur. Merial manufactures the ulcer preventative and sponsors the US Equestrian team. The company supplied all the team horses with the UlcerGard©, a legal substance in FEI competition.
West Coast Team competitor Joie Gatlin says her mount, 15-year-old SunCal's King--Pete--a Holsteiner gelding, had been successfully treated for ulcers long before the competition. "We did a series of GastroGuard© to heal the ulcers and then UlcerGuard© while showing and a generic (for) Tagamet© at home."
SunCal's supplement closet
- Succeed; a digestive conditioning program
- Royal Champion; multivitamin
- APF Herbal; adaptogenic supplement
Gatlin experienced shipping issues long before this across-the-world competition. Shipping from Southern California to Canada would make some of her show string tired, washed out, lethargic. One even developed a slight fever. Her veterinarian recommended APF for that horse and "he came off the truck bucking and ready to go." Since that experience she hasn't looked back. It's a natural product. I know it works I have seen it work.
Companionship is important for some horses. Gatlin always sends groom Aldolfo with SunCal's King. They flew from LAX to Amsterdam where they got a two-day layover at the Pet Hotel. Aldolfo put SunCal?s King on the walker twice a day and made sure he ate and stayed hydrated throughout the journey. Teammate Laura Kraut sent her sister Mary Elizabeth along with Anthem, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. "I make sure he has someone with him that he knows."
Shipping horses long distances takes planning. The horses need to feel safe, need time to relax outside the stall, and plenty to drink. Perhaps this team should have left earlier and spent more time in Europe before traveling to Asia. Hopefully these considerations will be made prior to travel to Hong Kong for the 2007 Summer Olympics.
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