Svendís specialist field is equine surgery (orthopaedics) and a great deal of his day is spent diagnosing minimally lame, multi-limb lame horses.

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.