Allison Springer announced today, April 21, that her longtime partner Arthur has been diagnosed with a heart condition and subsequently will retire from three-day eventing.
This week, while conducting final preparations for the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in Lexington, it was noticed that Arthur had developed a new heart arrhythmia, which needed to be further addressed. Initial testing was very positive, and it seemed as if Arthur would be set to compete, however thanks to technology, which continues to be enhanced for equine heart wellness, it was later concluded that in fact Arthur had developed an aortic regurgitation.
Springer, along with advice from Dr. Susan Johns, Dr. Kent Allen and cardiovascular specialist Dr. Virginia Reef, concluded that it is in the best interest of Arthur’s health and well-being to no longer exert himself by going cross-country.
“Arthur recently developed leakage from the aortic valve, a common degenerative problem in older horses,” said Dr. Reef, chief of diagnostic Imaging at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center.
Dr. Reef performed an ultrasound examination of the heart, which revealed the severity of Arthur’s aortic regurgitation (leakage).
“Premature beats originating from the ventricle (bottom chamber of the heart) can occur during exercise in horses with aortic valve leaks that are not detectable during a resting examination,” she said.
Along with Dr. Jessica Morgan, resident in sports medicine, Dr. Reef also performed an exercising electrocardiogram (tracing of the heart’s electrical activity), which revealed that Arthur had ventricular premature beats during exercise, several of which occurred early and in short bursts, increasing Arthur’s risk for collapse or sudden cardiac death during exercise. Although occasional premature beats are seen in horses during competition, the severity of Arthur’s premature beats during more intense work prompted his retirement from eventing to ensure his safety.
Arthur, an 18-year-old Irish Sport Horse by Brandenburg’s Windstar owned by the Arthur Syndicate LLC, began his career with Springer in the irons in 2005. Together during that time, the pair completed 38 of 44 FEI events they entered, with highlights including a USEF National Championship and an overall second place finish at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in 2012. Later that year, the duo was named to the United States Olympic Team Short list before going on to finish sixth at the Land Rover Burghley CCI**** (Great Britain).
“It has been a privilege to be part of Arthur’s support team for the past 12 years,” said Dr. Johns, Arthur’s longtime veterinarian. “It is a rarity for an upper-level three-day event horse to have such longevity in the sport, and I am so grateful to have cared for this amazing partnership. Although we are heartbroken that we will not be able to cheer this pair on at future events, we are thankful for our many adventures together.”
“Arthur is my one of my oldest friends,” said Springer, of Upperville, Va. “He and I have travelled the world together, and we have had many moments of triumph and some moments of heartbreak, but in every moment, he has been my partner, and I have always been incredibly proud to get to ride him. Arthur is so much more than just a horse to me, and risking his well-being is something I would never be willing to do. While I am of course sad to see his retirement from eventing come a bit prematurely, I will forever cherish our memories together and the incredible partnership we share.”
Springer will now do dressage and light jumping with Arthur, and Arthur’s fans may get to see him next week in at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** if the ground jury elects to allow him to complete his dressage test before he withdraws from the competition.
This information, as well as a date and location for Arthur’s official retirement ceremony, will be announced on the official Allison Springer Eventing Facebook page and on www.allisonspringer.com.