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View Full Version : New understanding of "relative" soundness, Dressage judging?



Perfect Pony
Oct. 2, 2009, 02:45 PM
So my little mare had stifle surgery almost 6 months ago. Turns out that all this time I was right and the vets were wrong, she did have a HUGE lesion in her stifle (nearly as big as a dime) and at 7 years old she had it removed. The whole thing has been bitter sweet, I knew there was something physical causing her weird behavior, but it's never fun to go through surgery, rehab, and come to the realization that you have been riding a horse that hurt :(

That said, before the surgery just about every vet, judge and trainer thought she was sound. The worst you ever saw was a slight toe drag as the slow trot that disappeared when she was more forward, and her nappy behavior. She has had many complications post-op and does not look as sound now as before the surgery.

However, she feels absolutely amazing! She is forward, happy, straight, even in both reins for the first time in her life, and is now perfectly consistent in the bridle. In other words, she's now happy to work, and those on the ground say they can see it when she is going.

I guess my question is, is her dressage "career" over? If she remains uneven behind, will she be counted down or dismissed as lame?

Beam Me Up
Oct. 2, 2009, 03:05 PM
My understanding is that if they are uneven (= lame) for any part of the test, the judge can stop your test.

It's really unfortunate that the unevenness reflects a happy, more comfortable horse than before and that you have your vet's clearance to train, but the judge can only call it as they see it.

HollysHobbies
Oct. 2, 2009, 03:08 PM
Hey PP-
It's amazing what happens with time--perhaps as she grows stronger, she unevenness will fade/disappear. Sometimes, even when horses are 100% better, they are MENTALLY affected for a long time (just as we all, as dressage riders, take SOOOO long to correct those bad habits...it's muscle memory). It's obviously important to have a vet you trust (and, IMO, one who has good common sense, not just book smarts)involved in the rehab process. I don't know how to answer your question, but I wish you good luck!

atr
Oct. 2, 2009, 05:36 PM
I'd say give it time and regular work, and you might be suprised how much of that uneven-ness goes away. Her muscular development in her hind end is probably uneven at the moment, and it's my experience that can make a huge difference in how they move. My boy lost a significant percentage of the muscle in his left hindquarter in a very nasty tie-up. It took him about 9 months of regular, careful work to build back up to having an even, sound-looking canter again, even though he wasn't in pain.

Perfect Pony
Oct. 2, 2009, 06:29 PM
Oh I have been trying very hard to not get discouraged. The surgery went very well but she developed cellulitis/adhesions/scar tissue around the incisions and portals that have been a battle. She's now on the eurosizer daily as well as ridden. Hopefully it will work out. It would just be a shame if she was looked upon as "lame" in competition NOW, when she is finally for all intents and purposes happy and sound in work for the first time in her life!

Vibrant
Oct. 2, 2009, 06:40 PM
My understanding is that if they are uneven (= lame) for any part of the test, the judge can stop your test.

It's really unfortunate that the unevenness reflects a happy, more comfortable horse than before and that you have your vet's clearance to train, but the judge can only call it as they see it.

I'm not a judge, but IME there is a difference between unevenness of stride and lameness.

OP, when you say "uneven", can you elaborate on what people are seeing? Is she not tracking up with the injured/rehabbing leg, is there a hesitation in the stride...? Can you *feel* it when you ride?

I'm tending to agree with the PP's that as she continues to recover, and realizes that she now has full mobility in that stifle without pain, her stride will even out. The fact that she is sound enough to be ridden even after complications like you described is great to hear. :)

Perfect Pony
Oct. 2, 2009, 07:00 PM
I'm not a judge, but IME there is a difference between unevenness of stride and lameness.

OP, when you say "uneven", can you elaborate on what people are seeing? Is she not tracking up with the injured/rehabbing leg, is there a hesitation in the stride...? Can you *feel* it when you ride?

I'm tending to agree with the PP's that as she continues to recover, and realizes that she now has full mobility in that stifle without pain, her stride will even out. The fact that she is sound enough to be ridden even after complications like you described is great to hear. :)

According to an FEI level trainer who saw her go recently, she IS tracking up behind, she is just dragging her toe and seems to have a hesitation in the stride. So to me she *looks* more lame. Riding her, she feels less lame. I can more hear it than feel it.

slc2
Oct. 2, 2009, 07:54 PM
if she remains uneven she will get disqualified. but I think if you follow a good rehab program, she might even up. you might need some help riding her even, that is not so easy. someone really good might be able to show you how to ride her even.

Gayla
Oct. 2, 2009, 08:11 PM
have you ever heard of myofacial massage? I am probably spelling it wrong but is is massage that is geared toward breaking up scar tissue around muscles. I was a chef for years so I have a good idea what they are talking about (Yuck! cleaning big pieces of meat). The covering over muscles can get thick and stiff...I may have it all wrong but it is worth a look. Good luck. If showing is not in your mare's future you can still be grateful for a happy horse that you can ride up to any level at home. :)

goeslikestink
Oct. 2, 2009, 08:22 PM
So my little mare had stifle surgery almost 6 months ago. Turns out that all this time I was right and the vets were wrong, she did have a HUGE lesion in her stifle (nearly as big as a dime) and at 7 years old she had it removed. The whole thing has been bitter sweet, I knew there was something physical causing her weird behavior, but it's never fun to go through surgery, rehab, and come to the realization that you have been riding a horse that hurt :(

That said, before the surgery just about every vet, judge and trainer thought she was sound. The worst you ever saw was a slight toe drag as the slow trot that disappeared when she was more forward, and her nappy behavior. She has had many complications post-op and does not look as sound now as before the surgery.

However, she feels absolutely amazing! She is forward, happy, straight, even in both reins for the first time in her life, and is now perfectly consistent in the bridle. In other words, she's now happy to work, and those on the ground say they can see it when she is going.

I guess my question is, is her dressage "career" over? If she remains uneven behind, will she be counted down or dismissed as lame?

i am surprize you are riding her -- if only six months ago rehabbing for an injury such as yours can take up to a year or more to re hab properly starting from the groundwork upwards from in hand work over ground poles to build up her mussles and tissues ro support the damaged ones which can take year in itself your horse is lame hence the unevenness -

if she was mine i would give her at least another 3-6mths off work might even be another year then bring her slowly back into working in hand over poles center and in the corner on the ground then move them up intto raised postion one end so like a v shape as in lke this vvvvv with the opposite end on the floor before finally have them paralli all that in walk in hand for 6 weeks then again in trot for another 6-8 week then back to start on the ground with added weight of your tack
in walk for 6- 8 weeks then again in trot

what this do it builds the legs up from the foot up and into the legs - build the mussles up in the good tissue and mussles to support the bad or injured ones
i would spend at least 3mths on the ground before even attempting to getting back on and starting all over again being ridden once shes refit - and then tracking up correctly
then and only then would i ut her back in to work and start her of as i would a young horse as in back to basics - and bring her through all that before i would call her refit to start work in the full work
i would seriously give this mare a second review- shes lame and isnt tracking up so wont get anywhere in anything until fit for work and beaware if she doesnt come right then her you might have to consider to retire her all together

you seem to being to much to soon after a huge injury to her leg

slc2
Oct. 2, 2009, 08:56 PM
Not all vets advise long layups and long periods of time off work for all injuries, even stifle surgery.

Allowing the muscles to loosen up and being out of work for a long time is not always the best thing for every sort of problem and injury.

In the old days, people used to turn out for a year, and then slowly bring the horse back, no matter what had happened to it.

It's recognized today that not every injury and not every problem and surgery benefit from that approach.

More complete confinement for a brief time, then a stepwise rehabilitation program of restricted, careful, graduated exercise, including modern medications and therapies such as shock wave, can give much better results in many injuries. Not every horse needs or should have a year off. But it is always a mistake to rush it faster than the vet advises. And it is more than anything, the expert sport horse rehab vet's advice, based on his imaging and examination and his eye in the surgery, which is the best.

shawneeAcres
Oct. 2, 2009, 09:05 PM
I have a mare with Fybrotic Myopathy, not a "lameness" in so far as the hrose is NOT sore in anyway, but scar tissue causes the hind leg to not reach as far underneath the body as it should, and since in one leg can look like "lamenss", when in fact is "unevenness". Having said that if I used a LOT of leg and kept her really fit I could and did ride many dressage tests where it was NEVER commented on. I never got a single comment on this "uneveness" as I really rode her strongly forward. I also rode her in a learner judges clinic, and again, it never was detected. I ttends to be most noticeable at the walk with her. Just work with your mare on strengthening etc and try a few tests, you may be surprised! Now that my mare is "retired" in the pasture it is much more noticeable.

Perfect Pony
Oct. 3, 2009, 01:28 PM
whoa goeslikestink, I am 100% under the guidance of my horse's surgeon. She had arthroscopic surgery to remove a lesion from a joint that was not at all compromised. She was also extremely fit pre-surgery. A long lay-up without movement is not at all indicated, no more than it would be for a human having knee surgery. She is much more likely to recover 100% by going through a rehabilitation process than to be laid up or turned out.

I'm not so sure you read my post, either that or you are only hearing what you want to hear. She's on turn-out, walking on a eurosizer in the AM, and ridden at the walk and 10-15 minutes of trot per day. After warming up she IS tracking up, and she is 100% sound at the walk. She is also straighter under saddle and feels less lame (and feels happy to work) for the first time. She just looks a little worse to me. She seems to be articulating the hind end even less than before.

The thread was really about a new understanding about what people refer to is relative or servicable soundness. It made me wonder about dressage judging, as before the surgery to me there was always something NQR but judges/trainers didn't really see it or pass it off as unsoundness. Now that she is happy and feels great, I wonder if she will be seen as lame!? So it is all a little bitter sweet, but I am very happy to still have my horse, and to know that no matter what, she is happier.

slc2
Oct. 3, 2009, 02:35 PM
If she is warming out of it there is a very good chance she's going to be even. Try not to think 'what if' right now, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other and trusting that you are doing right.

Piaffing
Oct. 3, 2009, 08:39 PM
Having had a horse with stifle issues that would cause him to go uneven, I will say yes you will be rung out at a Show. If the horse is uneven no shows period.