Para

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Wrapping up the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 (WEG) with this fourth report, it’s been almost two weeks of ups and downs and bumps in the road, starting with Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Tryon International Equestrian Center as the 13-day event began on September 11.

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At Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games - Welcome to our third report on the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 (WEG) currently underway in Mill Spring, North Carolina. The 13-day event, which began on September 11, has seen more than its share of challenges due to Hurricane Florence, and on September 15, two horses pulled up lame during the Mars-sponsored cross-country phase of the three-day event competition and received immediate veterinary treatment.

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You are who your friends are. That adage can apply to horses, too. How we treat them will often be reflected right back at us - for good or bad. Sometimes the difference between a harsh cue and an appropriate one can be subtle. Pressure can be effective, but intensity and timing can make all the difference.

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When you have finally found the perfect horse to take you to the winner’s circle, it’s tough to realize that he or she might be getting old. Many horses are now competing well into their late teens and early twenties, especially in certain disciplines such as dressage or show jumping where it takes many years of training to reach an elite level of competition. However, from a veterinary perspective, horses are considered geriatric as they reach the age of 15 to 20 years, which is when their physiological functions start to decline. The management of these horses becomes crucial to keep them competing at their best.

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Therapeutic horse riding may be used in the management of various anxiety disorders. But little is known about how these programs affect the stress levels in horses. A University of Missouri study has revealed that horses ridden by veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) did not have undue physiological stress responses, nor did they exhibit behavioural stress while participating in a veterans’ therapy program.

Head injuries are the most common reason for admission to hospital or death among riders. Sobering statistics reveal the high percentage of equine-related accidents resulting in traumatic brain injury, and helmets have been associated with reducing the risk of traumatic brain injury by as much as 50 percent. Yet many riders still do not wear a helmet.

It had been three months since Laura, a junior rider, had sustained a simple concussion during a fall from her horse. Her parents were becoming increasingly concerned that she was not progressing in her recovery. Laura was having difficulty focusing at school, disrupted sleep patterns, and intermittent headaches. Fearful of creating any further escalation in her symptoms, she had not returned to riding or any activity.

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