August 21, 2008

A barrage of veterinary tests has found no reason for the poor performance of top US dressage mare Brentina at the Olympic Games in Hong Kong.

After receiving the lowest score of her career (63.00%), all of Brentina's connections were concerned that despite training phenomenally every day leading up to the Games, there may have been something physically wrong with the gallant 17-year-old Hanoverian mare.


Debbie McDonald and Brentina. © Team USA/McCool Photography
But the tests revealed that Brentina is fit and well. "She's fitter and sounder than ever," said her rider of 13 years, Debbie McDonald. "She's been schooling so well but she was totally different in the ring than she was in the warm up. I was totally caught by surprise when she started spooking in the ring. She got tense and tight and became unrideable."

A thorough examination by US team veterinarian Dr. Rick Mitchell proved that Brentina is sound and well further reiterating what McDonald had said immediately following her ride.

"Brentina was thoroughly examined by a panel of three veterinarians per our selection process prior to entering quarantine in Germany," said Dr. Rick Mitchell. "Furthermore we had the opportunity to observe this mare training twice daily for six weeks, and we evaluated the soundness of all the team horses on a daily basis. There was never any question during that time or now about any aspect of her soundness."

Dr. Mitchell also explained that per the IOC rules, he evaluated each of the three horses one hour before their dressage test because a replacement was available up until that time. Brentina never demonstrated any evidence of soreness and lameness, and passed the horse inspection prior to the competition without any question.

As planned, Brentina will be retired after the Olympics. Owned by Parry and Peggy Thomas, the veteran medalist from 2006 World Equestrian Games and the 2004 Olympic Games will live out her retirement at the Thomases River Grove Farm in Hailey, Idaho.