We have depended on the horse in one way or the other for thousands of years, whether it be transport, farming or leisure and it continues today.
I recently had the pleasure of going to a Sharon May-Davis weekend with some very thought provoking people and wonderful new developments that have the potential to change a lot within the horse world.
These discoveries have made some people not so happy but that is not unusual in a billion dollar industry and where there is money their is always alternative motives.
I wanted to share just a little bit of the discussions that were had and the fantastic work that the likes of Sharon May-Davis do for us to understand the horse itself so we can continue to enjoy them and they enjoy us for long time to come.
The first research is regarding the evolution of the horse, we have taken for granted that the horse evolved from an animal of four toes to that of the one hoof animal we see today.
But why would evolution just cease? Is it possible that it has continued and is it to their benefit?
Sharon is researching into the changes that could have/have taken place since the domestication of the horse. We saw an example of nuchal ligament lamellae having been reduced to where there are 1 to 2 missing not attaching to C6 or C7 (there should be one attached to each of the cervical vertebrae) and in the case we were looking at C5 was virtually non existence and the small amount actually attached itself to the next vertebrae.
So what you might think, consider a suspension bridge with a few steel cable missing? Not very stable....lots of strain on the rest of the structure. So what is it doing to the horse? How are the aids that are used effecting the efficiency of the horse and its movement?
Then there is the ECVM Equine Complex Vertebral Malformation- which Sharon discovered and others are taking on further study. In a very easy term it is the C6 and/ or C7 and first rib that has malformations which can cause significant pain to your horse. If you think about the nerve and spinal cord being compromised a bit like a Chinese burn (if you remember them). The symptoms so far have all been so different with not one presenting as a constant. It is already present at birth not developed but can be trigged by a fall allowing the compromise to worsen. More research is going into this and I must say I am one of the excited ones being a bodyworker sometimes there are things I can not explain and this will assist when all else fails. The only way in diagnosing it is x rays and at this point no cure.
I love the fact that people like Sharon and her collogues are striving to make the horse's life a better and safe one, and in turn it will allow ours to be better and safe.
If you could like to read more on either one or both of these studies please see links below: