Emergency 911: Horse Show Edition
Critical conditions that can strike when you’re at a competition, and how to handle them
It’s what you’ve been building up to all year: show season. Your horse is in peak condition and ready to strut his stuff. Your truck and trailer are tuned up, loaded, and ready to haul halfway around the country. Usually, horses come and go to venues big and small and return home unscathed. Yet sometimes things go wrong, and you might be faced with an emergency on the road.
The possible horse show health scares are as varied as the injuries and ailments that can occur at home, but certain show-related hazards can amplify your horse’s chances of getting hurt. To summarize what you might want to look out for, two experienced sport horse veterinarians—Rob Boswell, DVM, of Equine Sports Medicine Group, in Wellington, Florida, and Peter Heidmann, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, of Montana Equine Medical and Surgical Center, in Three Forks—have weighed in on show horse emergencies veterinarians frequently see.
The Most Common Emergencies at Horse Shows
As athletes, horses are subject to the normal litany of wear-and-tear injuries as well as acute orthopedic problems from missteps or accidents. Fortunately, breakdown injuries or acute severe lamenesses from fractures are not as common at horse shows as they are in disciplines where horses compete at top speeds. Heidmann says he mostly sees orthopedic problems such as soft tissue injuries to tendons and ligaments, as well as muscle issues such as tying-up, acute muscular trauma, or chronic muscle injury flare-ups—many of which can be attributed to conditioning
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