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Events Reports 2010

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Combined Seminar for Equine Professionals
18th & 19th September 2010



The 3rd Combined Seminar for Equine Professionals was held at Warwickshire College, Moreton Morrell on Saturday/Sunday 18th/19th September 2010, it was again attended by a good number of delegates who are working professionals from different fields of the equine industry.

The seminars are organised by Tony Nevin (Osteopath) and Martin Reed (Farrier), the main idea of the seminars is to establish not only a good working relationship with our fellow equine colleagues, no matter what they practise, but also be able to understand some of the basic fundamental workings of areas that each of us do not normally work in, and hopefully delegates will be able to combine these different professions for the horse’s benefit. The seminars can also be used as a source of different knowledgeable people who could help you with a problem or to offer an idea into the think tank and see what answers may be given.

Saturday started with some excellent lectures being given to our delegates. David Gill AFCL, a farrier from Nottingham, started the day by presenting his lecture “The Total Concept of the Whole Horse”. David has written a book on this subject and his lecture covered various aspects looking into the farriery trade, a horse’s stance and its overall conformation and locomotion. David gave our delegates some very interesting views on his approach to not only his way of working but also some of his own ideas about how to assess the horse prior to shoeing. One very interesting point that David came up with was the relationship between the different hoof shapes and sizes and comparing the length of the lower limb by using a T-square that he has invented for this purpose.

The next presentation was given by Dr Chris Colles, BVetMed PhD, HonFWCF, MRCVS, RVCS and a Specialist in Equine Surgery (Orthopaedics) from Avonvale Veterinary Practice. His presentation covered “Lower Limb Deformities in Youngstock”; Dr Colles has many years of experience in this field and gave a very interesting and practical view to the subject. Dr Colles covered various deformities from the knee down to the hoof capsule and explained how these problems can be corrected by stud management (environment/dietary care), farriery work (trimming/shoeing) and veterinary intervention (surgical). Dr Colles’s overall approach to this problem was to try to allow nature to do its best in the first two weeks, and then allow the farrier to correct it with foot trimming or maybe with the aid of some remedial work as well. If this approach does not succeed then surgical treatment may have to be carried out by a veterinarian. There are various methods of treatments which can be applied; these are stapling, periosteal strip, and/or physeal stimulation. Shockwave treatment can also be used, usually given by an equine therapist.

This was followed by Mr John Williams MA, VetMB, MRCVS, who is also from Avonvale Veterinary Practice; he gave a lecture on “Equine Dental Care”. Mr Williams is not only one of the working vets at the practice but is also a member of the Senior Veterinary Show Jumping team for Great Britain, which he has represented all over Europe. His riding experience helps him to assess a horse’s teeth and compare this with how the horse may be working/mouthing through feedback felt via the bit when the horse is worked. Mr Williams covered the various aspects of how the horse’s teeth are formed and grow, how they work together to allow the horse to eat and he also covered many of the problems associated with misaligned, damaged and infected teeth that may cause difficulties with a horse mouthing the bit correctly or cause an imbalance in its muscular structures. Mr William’s presentation was covered by written notes, some excellent x-rays and two horse’s skulls, one of which had a very rare problem with its teeth; this allowed the delegates to have a “hands-on” approach to something that they may not see during their normal working days.

After the lunch break, a visual assessment of a horse with lower limb deformities was given, prior to shoeing, by Mr Ron Ware FWCF. Mr Ware is a very well respected farrier whose career has spanned several decades in which he has worked on various types of horses. He has also worked for The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, The Jockey Club in Hong Kong and Ron worked for Avonvale Veterinary Practice as their remedial farrier before he retired.

The horse was walked and trotted up in front of the delegates so that they could assess its conformation, limb movement, foot flight and placement. All of the different aspects of shoeing were discussed prior to the horse being shod. The horse was then taken into the forge so it could be shod, Mr Ware described and showed the delegates how he assess the lower limbs and foot balance before the shoeing process began. The practical work was carried out by Martin Reed, under the watchful eyes of Mr Ware. After the shoeing had been completed, the horse was walked and trotted up in front of the delegates again. It was agreed that the horse’s movement had improved.
On Sunday, Mr Russell Guire, Bsc Hons (Equine & Human Sports Science) from Centaur Biomechanics, opened the day with his presentation on “English Astride saddle v Side saddle” using an equine analysis programme. This proved to be a very interesting study, not yet completely solved due to more research required, but it instantly showed that there was a difference between the two different types of saddles, the horse’s movement and the rider’s position. The study was carried out by using two different dressage horses; one was a mature horse the other was a young horse learning its trade. These were then ridden by their owners using their own tack. A series of movements and dressage paces were then performed by the riders and their horses. Each horse and rider had a series of reference markers placed onto them so that the measurements could be analyzed correctly. One of the horses trailed showed that it had a varied range of measurements when ridden under the two different saddles, it was not proven that it was just the saddle that made the difference, it was asked by the delegates that further studies should be carried out. Not just to cover the different saddles but also the horse’s muscular/skeletal conformation, its movement, posture and the riders seat/style.

Dr Chris Colles followed afterwards with his second presentation of the weekend, “Differential Diagnosis of Back Problems in Horses”. Dr Colles explained about the differences in using Infra Red Thermal Images and what would class as acute and chronic back problems. The first part of his presentation covered some of the problems that are encountered prior to filming, some of these included weather conditions, the thickness/colour of the horses coat, room temperature, how well the horse travelled, rugged or not and last but not least the camera operator. Dr Colles then proceeded to explain about some of the cases that have been seen by him at the veterinary practice, some were minor problems and then some were severe cases. In some of the extreme cases, where horses have had a very serious fall, often race horses or show jumpers, Dr Colles said that it is good practice to x-ray certain areas of the spine before allowing anyone to carry out any type of manipulative treatment. This was proven with two cases where the horses had suffered fractures to the cervical vertebrae and a fractured pelvis. At the end of Dr Colles’s presentation, he covered a modern technique of dealing with “kissing spines”; this was found to be very interesting to the delegates.

After the dinner break, the delegates were then given a “Hands-on (visual) Assessment” by Mr Tony Nevin, BSc (Hons) Ost, D.O., of the same two horses and riders previously used in Mr Guire’s presentation using the equine analysis programme. The horses were led in hand, walked and trotted away from and back towards the delegates without any tack on, then with just the tack (which included using the different saddles) and afterwards they were then seen ridden completing the same exercises as on the previous occasion when they were filmed for the earlier presentation by Mr Guire. Mr Nevin explained how he assesses the horse’s movement, muscle tone, use of the head carriage and limb movement when being walked, trotted and turned in a tight circle. He then went into further detail when the horses were ridden, going through all of the original paces and movements that were completed earlier on in the study by Mr Guire.


Last but not least, Ms Liz Oakenfold, D.O., Osteopath, demonstrated an unsedated osteopathic treatment. The horse that was used in this demonstration had been previously scanned with a thermal image camera under strict control conditions; this will show up the areas that are compromised. Ms Oakenfold does not use this type of information regarding the horses that she normally treats. The horse was assessed by Ms Oakenfold by observing it walk and trot away and back towards her in a straight line; the horse was then turned in a tight circle in both directions and asked to walk backwards. When the horse is walked and trotted in a straight line it gives you a very good view of how it uses all of it’s body to move, it lets you see if the horse is moving freely or whether it is over-working one aspect more than the others. When being turned in a tight circle the horse should, hopefully, curve its neck gently into the turn, flex evenly through its front end and cross the hind legs over each other when turning. Ms Oakenfold started her treatment by feeling the tone of the muscles through the horses body, then she moved down to the bottom of the left front limb and felt the amount of movement and flexion within the joints of the lower limb, she did this on all the other limbs before moving up to the horses body. Ms Oakenfold uses her finger tips to feel for the difference in muscle tone, this enables her to work on any areas that have gone into spasm or are just tight and knotted from prolonged contracture. The way that Ms Oakenfold treated the horse, looked like the same sort of osteopathic treatment that a human may be given, it was quiet, methodical with only the minimal amount of pressure being used. The horse’s neck is usually the last area that Ms Oakenfold treats, but in this case due to the horse’s assessment prior to treatment, she started treating the neck before the body as it needed to be freed early on in the treatment. Once the horse had been treated it was walked and trotted for the delegates to assess how much better the horse moved afterwards.

At the end of each day a question and answer session was given, questions could cover any of the presentations or ideas that may require a varied amount of solutions from all of the equine professionals who attended. The delegates were also asked by the co-ordinators for their feedback about the seminar and any items that they wished to see on future agendas. This has given the co-ordinators a large range of presentations/demonstrations that the delegates would be interested in seeing at the next seminar, which will be taking place at Warwickshire College, Moreton Morrell on Saturday/Sunday 17th/18th September 2011.

Tony and Martin would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the guests, Mr David Gill, Dr Chris Colles, Mr John Williams and the staff at Avonvale Veterinary Practice, Mr Ron Ware, Mr Russell Guire, Ms Liz Oakenfold and to Mrs Liz Rogers, Mrs Clarissa Dawson and their horses for being part of the practical demonstration. We would also like to thank all of the Equine and Farriery Departments at Warwickshire College for the use of their facilities, horses and all the hard work that was done by the members of staff.

Hope to see you all next year,

Tony and Martin.