MEDICATIONS AT THE TRACK
ONE MORE VET BILL. WOULD YOU WANT THIS DONE TO YOUR HORSE? (cont'd)
In this month it is quite clear that things are going wrong. They keep looking for bleeding. Probably to explain the poor performance. They have run blood tests and given other medications... trying to figure out the problem. Could it be the obvious? This animal was trained with no regard to how she was responding to the normal stresses of the gallops. The blatant use of Bute shows that. The persistent use of the corticosteroids which have a long-term cumulative effect could finally no longer keep her problems masked. It is very possible that the trainer felt he was "helping" this horse throughout the program. It is possible that he believes it is inevitable that all horses go bad and it is just a question of how many races we can get out of them before the ultimate crash.
This is the fallacy that must be changed. Horses can race for years! However, during the training process, the trainer must allow the horse to heal from the stress to his body as he grows more efficient. It has been said that the anaerobic fitness in a horse can be brought to optimum capacity in three months. I believe that is true. But the fact is that the structure of the horse may not be mature enough, soon enough, to sustain his natural speed. That is why we have "90 day wonders". They can run early but their structure will be pulled apart as pressure is put on green bone and improperly prepared tendons and ligaments. The whole picture must be taken into account. If you push the horse too fast, he will not last in his career. Look at the patterns of most modern day horses. They run brilliantly and consistently for a series of races, then they have breakdowns that sideline them for months, years or forever.
Owners must decide what they want. They must allow the trainers to train judiciously and not pressure them, or risk the consequences. By sharing these vet bills, it is hoped that owners will educate themselves as to what they are paying for in terms of real training and what is legitimate medical support.
The filly's last vet bill shows X-rays on November 3. At that point the owners, after seeing two lackluster races and the glint gone from the filly's eye, decided to give her rest and then aim her for a stake a few months later.
The vet exam at the farm reported a dull, depressed animal with little appetite, very quiet and unresponsive for a young Thoroughbred. Lame on the left front. Heat and puffiness in fetlocks. The animal was rested months until soreness appeared to be gone. She was put into light training and as she progressed, seemed to go sore when pressured with any speed. She was reviewed by a Vet University hospital and found to have a broken bone in the foot. This filly was retired as a three year old.
I wonder what kind of horse she might have been if she had been handled differently. She probably would not have won the early stakes that she did win because she would have started racing later. But she might have been around to race usefully for many seasons. She did have the gift of speed!
At 30 months of age, having spent six months at the racetrack, this horse was permanently ruined. Interestingly, endurance horses jumpers, three- day eventers, dressage, and even barrel racing horses are still competing up to 18 and 20 years of age. What is their secret?