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Question of ethics...

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  • Question of ethics...

    Because I'm pretty oblivious to this sort of thing, and self-identify as a "girl who should know more in the horse world but doesn't."

    My gut is telling me the answer to this question but I'm not sure if I'm being irrational or if people really function like this in the horse world. This was awhile ago so some details are fuzzy. But I still think about it because I still can't come to a conclusion- and I do remember the principle I'm confused about.

    I used to work at Barn X. Barn X was not a boarding barn, but had an equestrian program. I exercise rode whoever needed to be ridden, especially those coming off of stall rest for whatever health reason.

    Horse Y was on-and-off lame. This was known for a few months and he had been out of work. But his lameness was so on-and-off that I had lost track of his current status (I mostly cleaned stalls so I didn't really keep track of each horse's individual issues... I trusted the trainers had a decent grasp.)

    One day the trainer approaches me and asks me to ride Horse Y. I do, assuming his lameness is absolved for now and he's ready to be ridden again. Turns out, he is severely lame on his right fore so I get off and tell the trainer this.

    She goes, "Oh, I know, I just want to be sure the vet can see exactly what's wrong when she's out tomorrow."



    So did this trainer ask me to ride the horse to make him lame (or prolong it, or worsen it, whatever you want to say) so the vet could get a more accurate diagnosis?

    It kind of makes me sick to think about riding this guy who was obviously in pain (turns out it was navicular), but is this thing done at other barns for sake of accuracy in diagnoses?

  • #2
    To an extent, yes. I have had *vets* ask me to ride the NQR one after we had done some pretty decent diagnostics and still didn't have an answer. It does no one any good if the vet can't see enough lameness to make a diagnosis.

    Sometimes, too, lamenesses have causes that come from being the horse being out of shape. You ride it and the problem either gets better or worse. You do keep an eagle-eye on the situation during these rides.

    For a horse as lame as you say-- obvious to you, you could see it and feel it-- I think the trainer was wrong... or hadn't seen the horse recently enough to know that he would come out "that broken."

    Unless you have an exceptional eye for unsoundness, if you can see it and feel it, the horse is lame enough for a dvm, too.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

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    • #3
      To "test" exercise a horse with "off/on" lameness is not necessarily a bad thing. If the horse is moving sound then there's no reason to have the vet out to see a sound horse. Determining that its "off" before finalizing the vet visit is not necessarily bad.

      Of course it would be nice to know about the on/off lameness. Is on/off on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly cycle?

      When you noticed the lameness what did you do? Continue or dismount?

      I don't see any "ethical" issue from what you've written, but there could be one if more facts were known. Or it might be conclusively resolved that there is no such issue if more facts were known.

      G.
      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by mvp View Post
        To an extent, yes. I have had *vets* ask me to ride the NQR one after we had done some pretty decent diagnostics and still didn't have an answer. It does no one any good if the vet can't see enough lameness to make a diagnosis.

        Sometimes, too, lamenesses have causes that come from being the horse being out of shape. You ride it and the problem either gets better or worse. You do keep an eagle-eye on the situation during these rides.

        For a horse as lame as you say-- obvious to you, you could see it and feel it-- I think the trainer was wrong... or hadn't seen the horse recently enough to know that he would come out "that broken."

        Unless you have an exceptional eye for unsoundness, if you can see it and feel it, the horse is lame enough for a dvm, too.
        I assumed that the trainer thought he wasn't lame and wanted me to start getting him back in shape; I wasn't expecting him to be so lame, and I wasn't expecting that she knew about it.

        Obviously I had to pull him up and walk him around to tack him up and such, and I don't remember being able to see any unsoundness (like I said, my memory is pretty fuzzy on the details.) Plus I'm horrible at detecting it unless it's obvious. So nothing clued me in until I got on.

        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
        To "test" exercise a horse with "off/on" lameness is not necessarily a bad thing. If the horse is moving sound then there's no reason to have the vet out to see a sound horse. Determining that its "off" before finalizing the vet visit is not necessarily bad.

        Of course it would be nice to know about the on/off lameness. Is on/off on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly cycle?

        When you noticed the lameness what did you do? Continue or dismount?

        I don't see any "ethical" issue from what you've written, but there could be one if more facts were known. Or it might be conclusively resolved that there is no such issue if more facts were known.

        G.
        It was a weekly cycle- one week he'd be on stall rest, someone would start riding him, and in a few days he'd be lame again...etc. Much of that was due to poor outdoor arena footing (another story.) I rode him in the indoor where the footing was better, for his own sake.

        I dismounted when I noticed it because he felt so unstable and was obviously in pain.

        I'm open to it being a "non-issue," and maybe I'm making something out of nothing. I think it just bothered me when I brought it up with the trainer and she sort of laughed and said, "Oh, I know he's lame, we want that" (and she didn't clue me into that before I hopped on.) I guess it could be a non-issue. At the time though, it just felt NQR.

        Comment


        • #5
          The trainer may have just wanted to verify that the horse was lame prior
          to the vet visit.

          I've gotten on a horse that was NQR and ridden for a few minutes to see
          if the horse worked out of it. Sometimes they do (esp if it's arthritis), and
          sometimes not. As long as it's only a short period of time, you're not
          pounding on the horse, and the horse is NQR versus dead lame,
          there is no real harm done.

          I don't think there was anything wrong with what the trainer did.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm open to it being a "non-issue," and maybe I'm making something out of nothing. I think it just bothered me when I brought it up with the trainer and she sort of laughed and said, "Oh, I know he's lame, we want that" (and she didn't clue me into that before I hopped on.) I guess it could be a non-issue. At the time though, it just felt NQR.
            If the horse is lame, it's easier for the vet to find out what the problem actually is.

            Comment


            • #7
              If the horse is as lame as he sounds why not trot him in hand or throw him on a lunge line before tacking him up and riding?
              Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

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              • #8
                I think the missing piece is that the trainer could have said, "Dobbin has a vet appt tomorrow and I want to be sure he's still lame. Can you get on and let's watch him move and see how he feels?" If they had told you they needed to see if he worked out of the problem, or worked into it, you would have understood the assignment!

                Comment


                • #9
                  There are also some horses that come out stiff and a little off, then work out of it as they warm up - the trainer may have wanted to see him under saddle for a minute so she could tell the vet if he got worse or better after being worked for a minute.

                  That's the generous interpretation.
                  Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                  Witherun Farm
                  http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by betsyk View Post
                    I think the missing piece is that the trainer could have said, "Dobbin has a vet appt tomorrow and I want to be sure he's still lame. Can you get on and let's watch him move and see how he feels?" If they had told you they needed to see if he worked out of the problem, or worked into it, you would have understood the assignment!
                    Agree with this. If the trainer was watching, could be perfectly fine and there are many reasons why this might be a decent plan. If she just turned you loose to ride alone and discover the lameness yourself and make your own decision to get off -- not cool.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post
                      Agree with this. If the trainer was watching, could be perfectly fine and there are many reasons why this might be a decent plan. If she just turned you loose to ride alone and discover the lameness yourself and make your own decision to get off -- not cool.
                      I third that.
                      The question in situation was not that the horse was lame and you were asked to ride him anyway as much as that it was not made clear how far you may ride the horse and what to look for, so a report can be made to the vet the next day.

                      Some wires seem crossed there and that may be what happened, you both were not on the same page, it doesn't make sense otherwise.

                      I see why you were puzzled.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Okay, so the consensus appears that it was the lack of communication that made the situation seem weird. Thanks.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would agree, communication issue. Decades ago I was asked to ride a mare specifically because she was on and off lame and always jogged sound when the vet was there. I had clear instructions on what to do, including lots of small circles at the trot in both directions, to help pinpoint the issue. In this mare's case it was either lame, or not, not something that we could tease out as 'worse with work' or 'works out of it after a while.' It's been long enough I can't remember the diagnosis, but whatever it was she was successfully treated and back in action after a few weeks.

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