August 12, 2008

The eventing horses in yesterday's Olympic cross-country came through the event well, with only a few requiring extra hydration.

After their rounds all the horses were taken to the cooling installations which included a cooling box and misting fans.


The cooling fans were popular with horses after their cross-country round. © Dirk Caremans
"We were lucky with the weather," Foreign Veterinary Delegate Prof. Leo Jeffcott, who has spent three years monitoring the climatic conditions in cooperation with the Hong Kong Observatory, said.

Indeed, with a temperature of around 25degC (80ºF), a cloudy sky and light rain, the weather was by no means extreme. Moreover, it remained stable throughout the morning which allowed for all the participants to compete under equal conditions. Humidity was high at around 70%.

"The horses were tired, some more than others, but all did finish well," Prof. Jeffcott explained. Most teams took care of their own horses but help was provided whenever necessary; it proved very efficient.

At about 41ºC, the body temperature of some of the horses was rather high upon arrival. They were monitored until it went down to 38-39ºC, a proof that the cooling had worked well. Some horses needed rehydration and were administered fluids.


Mary King's Call Again Cavalier (GB) receives veterinary care after the cross-country. © Arnd Bronkhorst
"All went extremely well," Prof. Jeffcott pointed out.

The only serious injury was that of Keymaster ridden by Sweden's Magnus Gallerdal. Upon arrival in the cooling box, the horse seemed well. Subsequently, lameness on the right was noticed and a strained tendon was suspected. Ice and a bandage were administered. A horse ambulance was offered but Keymaster could walk by himself to the stable where the leg was X-rayed.

A hairline fracture - a very small sliver or crack - on the pastern bone was diagnosed, which is not an uncommon injury at this level of competition. The horse was given painkillers and a strong bandage to support the injured leg. He is being transported to the equine clinic of the Hong Kong Jockey Club today by ambulance and an operation will be performed. In the meantime, Keymaster is comfortable and the Swedish team vet is well satisfied with the care provided.

Where the riders are concerned, there were several falls, but no injuries at all have been reported.

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