Good lord, I have no idea where to place this nor whether I have placed this properly. Sorry! And sorry in advance for this huge rant. This may go off the rails royally… And I have my flame coat on.
After the Plaidcast pointed me towards Audrey DeClue’s podcast, I had a listen. A lot of what she had to say makes a whole lot of sense… compensation, body lameness, etc, But she seems a bit extreme and as I listen, I find there isn’t much data or specifics to support her conclusions. In other words, I think there is value, but she speaks in vagaries and absolutes,
According to her: Every one-sided horse has pain and injury. Every swappy horse has pain and injury. Most limb lameness draws back to body (or positional) lameness. And onwards… again, I want to believe this, but it seems too simple. Too many people don’t consider conformational challenges or other issues, true, but the problems cannot be that widespread so as to undermine an industry. This podcast is not a panacea.
More concerning is that I have been swapping my tack around and texting my vets and trainer like a psychopath since starting this podcast. Maybe she is right, but this is crazy-making! It seems as though all problems are solved by her and that the rest of us are fools.
My horse is undeniably tricky and I have pathologized all of her quirks at this point after starting this podcast. But I wonder…, she does not swap when counter cantering to a fence in either direction. So, how does that not negate or call into question the “pain” or “weakness” argument for swapping leads or cross cantering? She does it both directions if we do not counter canter. Would that not indicate she is anticipating? How is that pain? Sounds behavioral.
I agree that we don’t always look at the whole horse. I agree our horses aren’t always fit. I agree that we don’t always consider downstream effects of issues that don’t originate in the limbs… but her stance seems to be incredibly absolute while remaining vague and also overly broad and unyielding… So, as much as I would like it to solve my issues, it doesn’t. (And I have more than one very smart and very highly recommended FEI/USEF vet on my team!). Color me confused.
I have noticed that she thinks that almost all “behavioral” issues are pain-derived, I wish that were true, and I dread that it is… but I don’t believe it. She has only seen one horse that is NQR that she can’t track back to pain, if you listen. Can it truly be that all other vets are wrong? That all horsemen are wrong? I have also noticed that she has self-promoted here on the board and repeatedly referenced so-called peer-reviewed studies that have not been published. Ever. If the data is so compelling and scientifically sound, why has it not been published? Why are shivers and stringhalt bundled together? Many horsemen would love to hear how and why!
Ultimately, I am not trying to undermine her work. I think that we need more research on non-racing sport horses, and I commend her for doing that. Anyone who pays attentio to equine mefical research knows that almost all of it comes from racing, and that the sample size is almost always tiny. So, kudos for trying… but I feel that she has instilled in me a level of paranoia that is not backed by published data and makes me think everything dials down or injury. Am I alone?
I, like any other horse lover, care about my baby’s comfort and health and career longevity. And I care about limb lameness and whether it is caused by other factors. But I don’t want to be driven mad by someone who cannot back their claims with even minimal data. Show me the money.