Study­ing Horse Fa­tal­i­ties

Practical Horseman - - Inside Your Ride -

While horses can sus­tain cat­a­strophic in­juries on cross coun­try that lead to eu­thana­sia, car­dio­vas­cu­lar and pul­monary (lung) com­pro­mise can also cause sud­den equine death in event­ing.

The U.S. Event­ing As­so­ci­a­tion formed the Car­diopul­monary Re­search Group in 2008, led by Dr. Cather­ine Kohn, VMD, to study the risk fac­tor for these types of fa­tal­i­ties in com­pe­ti­tions and pos­si­ble strate­gies to pre­vent them.

By ob­tain­ing au­top­sies from horses who die in com­pe­ti­tion, the USEA can de­ter­mine whether horse falls, and ul­ti­mately fa­tal­i­ties, oc­curred due to un­der­ly­ing heart or lung disease. Since be­gin­ning the study in 2008, the Car­diopul­monary Re­search Group has found that ex­ten­sive pul­monary hem­or­rhage (blood in the lungs) and ab­dom­i­nal bleed­ing (due to rup­ture of a large blood ves­sel) were a fac­tor in nu­mer­ous equine fa­tal­i­ties.

In the study’s re­cent up­date, Dr. Kohn rec­om­mends event riders have a vet­eri­nar­ian care­fully lis­ten to their horse’s heart prior to the first com­pe­ti­tion of the sea­son.

“If the horse’s heart rhythm is nor­mal and there are no heart mur­murs, sched­ule an­nual reeval­u­a­tions to en­sure that heart func­tion con­tin­ues to be nor­mal,” she said. “If your vet­eri­nar­ian de­tects an ab­nor­mal­ity in heart rhythm or a heart mur­mur, your horse should be eval­u­ated by a ve­teri­nary spe­cial­ist with ex­pe­ri­ence and ad­vanced train­ing in equine car­di­ol­ogy.”

Read “Re­search Up­date: Equine Heart Health” in the May 2016 is­sue for more in­for­ma­tion.

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