specialist field is equine surgery (orthopaedics) and a great deal
of his day is spent diagnosing minimally lame, multi-limb lame
He believes that the
key to finding an answer to many minimally lame or underperforming
horses is to observe the movement patterns thoroughly. He combines
this with his experience, not only from other lame horses throughout
a long career in equine orthopaedics but also from observing
thousands and thousands of competition horses in movement, which has
enabled him to build up the mental database for comparison with
lameness cases. This has not happened overnight; Svendís European
background among top dressage riders has given him this basis from
before he even entered veterinary studies in 1972.
The clinician must speak and
understand the language involved and be aware of the specific
activities performed in each sport and therefore the origin of
potential lameness problems that may occur, and in particular which
anatomical structures are most at risk.
Svend observes the horse as a
whole: for example back pain may be noticed as a combination of poor
bit acceptance, tension, poor suspension and a loss in quality and
expression of paces. It is important to be able to acknowledge lack
of athletic potential as well as a questionable temperament or
unwillingness to engage any ability in the sport. It is equally
important to recognise normal variation in lameness patterns and be
able to appreciate the changes in gait patterns which occur with
training and the various different gait patterns between breeds.
Svend has a life-long interest in
imaging, in particular radiology and ultrasonography, tools he uses
daily. An increasing number of practices boast the latest diagnostic
technology. However these are only as effective as the veterinary
surgeon interpreting the results. There are no shortcuts. Patience,
tenacity and experience are key.
Svend's original mentor and close friend,
Professor Michael Hesselholt in the nordic
summer light at Skagen, Denmark.