Everyone in the USA who follows dressage was shocked yesterday when US dressage rider and Olympic veteran Debbie McDonald and her veteran horse Brentina scored the lowest grand prix test of their career in the arena at Sha Tin. The horse was uneasy and difficult to ride, so a thorough vet check was performed. This morning, Joanie Morris of the US Equestrian Federation released a statement on the 17-year-old Hanoverian mare.
A thorough examination by US team veterinarian Dr. Rick Mitchell of Fairfield Equine Associates in Connecticut proved that Brentina is sound and well, further reiterating McDonald's comments immediately following her ride.
"Brentina was thoroughly examined by a panel of three veterinarians per our selection process prior to entering quarantine in Germany," said Dr. Mitchell. "Furthermore we had the opportunity to observe this mare training twice daily for six weeks, and we evaluated the soundness of all the team horses on a daily basis. There was never any question during that time or now about any aspect of her soundness."
Dr. Mitchell also explained that per the IOC rules, he evaluated each of the three horses one hour before their dressage test because a replacement was available up until that time. Brentina never demonstrated any evidence of soreness and lameness, and passed the horse inspection prior to the competition without any question.
The plan has always been that Brentina would be retired after these Olympic Games. The veteran medalist from 2006 World Equestrian Games and the 2004 Olympic Games has had her typical phenomenal performances all spring building up to these Games. Her performance in the ring here is unexplainable but everyone connected to Brentina is happy that the mare is fit and sound and will live out her retirement at River Grove Farm in Hailey, Idaho, with her owners Parry and Peggy Thomas.
A comment was published in the international press allegedly attributed to an official who criticized McDonald and said that Brentina did not belong in Hong Kong, implying that the horse was somehow obviously unfit.
? 2006-2007-2008 The Jurga Report: Horse Health Headlines. All rights reserved.
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