Horse Health in Photos: A Volcano, Hypersensitivity Debates, Tornadoes, War and Sport Tested the Equine Body and Spirit Last Week

by Fran Jurga | 27 April 2010 | The Jurga Report at

Everyone was thinking about the effects of the volcano eruption in Iceland on international air travel, but what did it mean to the wonderful horses who live there? Here you see horse owner Ingi Sveinbjoernsso leading two of his horses on a road covered with volcanic ash. He’s bringing them back to his barn after he said they came galloping out of the volcanic storm, hooves muffled in the ash, with their manes flying. Only 24 hours earlier he’d lost his herd of shaggy horses in an ash cloud that turned day into terrifying night, blanketing the wild landscape in glutinous grey mud. What will be the effects on the horses’ respiratory systems, their skin, their hooves? We’ll find out just how tough the Icelandic horses are, and I hope veterinary researchers are there to document their health. Photo from fOTOGLIF /Halldor Kolbeins, AFP/Getty Images

This is one of my favorite photos from Iceland: A woman herds horses along a snow covered road in a valley below Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano on Thursday. It’s there, you just can’t see it through the smoke and steam. Photo from fOTOGLIF / REUTERS/Lucas Jackson.

The face of Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussein of Jordan, President of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), reflects the seriousness of the situation at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland. She and FEI veterinarians briefed the press after USA rider McLain Ward’s horse Sapphire was disqualified at the FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final. According to an FEI testing protocol, Sapphire exhibited hypersensitivity in one foreleg, even though she jumped a jump round. The FEI experts struggled to explain the subtleties of the new testing protocol, which is similar to tests used in the USA to detect soring in Tennessee Walking horses. The FEI denied a formal protest from the United States. Sapphire was leading the competition when she was disqualified. German Marcus Ehning was the winner. You can read lots more about this controversy in posts from last week on The Jurga Report. Photo from fOTOGLIF /EPA/Martial Trezzini

Horses graze in the sun amidst damaged trees on Sunday after a tornado destroyed the landscape around them in Yazoo City, Mississippi, on Saturday. Ten people were killed, roofs were torn off businesses and homes, vehicles were overturned and roads were blocked by toppled trees. No word yet about equine fatalities. If these horses could speak… Not so lucky: countless horses died in an earthquake in China. The photos were too distressing to print. Photo from fOTOGLIF / EPA/Chris Todd

A rider splashes water on his horse during the International Wadi Rum Endurance Race on Friday in Jordan, where 55 riders representing four countries tackled either a 160km or an 80km route through the desert. How much of that water is getting to the horse? Riders from the Middle East will invade Kentucky this summer to prepare for the endurance section of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equesrian Games. What a switch for their horses! Photo from fOTOGLIF / Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

In Townsville, Queensland, at the very northern tip of Australia’s eastern coast, a pony stood at attention as a corps of Australian troops returned from duty in Afghanistan. The single pony represented corps member Private Benjamin Ranaudo who was killed in combat. The unit’s logo is a rearing horse, which is embroidered into the pony’s cooler. Photo from fOTOGLIF / Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

In the USA, all eyes were on Kentucky this weekend, as the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and two Kentucky Cup “test events” for the upcoming 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games brought throngs to the Kentucky Horse Park. It rained, of course, but Rolex fans and organizers are used to that! The winner seemed to be surprised: British icon William Fox-Pitt guided his young horse Cool Mountain gracefully through all three phases and never lost his lead established in the dressage phase. Americans Phillip Dutton and Becky Holder were hot on his heels, though, along with Kim Severson and Karen O’Connor. (FEI photo/Kit Houghton)

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