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Animal Health Trust – Sue Dyson

23 July 2018

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‘Identification of pain in ridden horses’ Research Program

World Horse Welfare Rescue Centre, Snetterton
21 July 2018

SRC member, Maggie Burt and her lovely 11 year old home-bred TbxID, Archie, well known to those of us who attend the SRC training sessions, recently volunteered to take part in a research program being run by Sue Dyson with the Animal Health Trust into the identification of pain in ridden horses.

All the horses were inspected initially by Jo Spear, Equine Physiotherapist, who checked their backs for signs of pain or tension.  Archie’s back showed slight tension behind the saddle, but no pain was evident. 

The horses were then inspected by Liz Suddaby (Leggett) from Mill Saddlery for any saddle fit issues.  Archie’s saddle was considered to be slightly tight at the withers, which would tend to tip Maggie back in the saddle.

After a warm up in a very hot outdoor arena, Maggie and Archie completed a  15 minute dressage test indoors, under the watchful eye of Sue Dyson, various interested vets (including Helen Whitbread), who scored the horses’ behaviour in each movement, and a video camera.   Archie generally appeared to behave well but both he and Maggie were clearly tired at the end of such a sustained effort in the hot conditions.

Maggie received feedback from Sue Dyson a couple of days later.  She had found that Archie was slightly lame bilaterally behind, and showed some moderate behavioural pain indicators.   Based on this Archie was booked to see the vet and saddlefitter for further investigations.  These investigations have led to his hocks being medicated, which will hopefully make him much more comfortable.

Maggie’s own comments sum up what Sue Dyson is looking to achieve:  “I’m very convinced that this research will help horses by enabling very early diagnosis of lameness. Archie wasn’t hopping lame and never has been but his “behavioural scoring” meant these investigations were undertaken and his problems diagnosed. On its own, behavioural scoring isn’t enough but it looks like it’s likely to be a good early indicator of discomfort.”

The link to the AHT website below gives further details.