A Horse is a Horse, Of Course

The headline read “Tests Confirm Sprinter Sacre Has Irregular Heartbeat.”  I clicked on the link to read about the track and field star with the last name of Sacre. Funny story . . . it’s a horse.

800px-Sprinter_Sacre

Interesting. What type of observation is made on a horse that leads to a conclusion of an irregular heartbeat?

Sprinter Sacre is a decorated steeplechase horse.  His rider noticed that he was “awkward” on the first couple of fences so he stopped racing. As a result of this, the veternarian gave him a work up and determined that he had an irregular heartbeat.

It seems that the first step  was spotting a symptom – fatigue. “He landed on the back of the fence and Barry said he was empty.”  Why didn’t the rider yell at the horse and tell it to “suck it up?” Couldn’t the trainer give Sprinter Sacre a swig of “horse gatorade” and get him back on the track? No, the horse’s handlers acted responsibly and looked for potential problems.

It is also impressive that there is awareness around this type of occurrence. A vet interviewed in the article noted that this is “typical of a big horse with a big heart.” Do you know what else is typical? Big athletes with big hearts. It is called cardiomyopathy, and it is one of the conditions that lead to sudden cardiac death.

It’s not just the best horses getting thorough exams either. Every horse that races in Kentucky undergoes a race-day exam. In fact, in the big races that involve horses from other states, they start examining the horses a week prior, and historical medical information is also available.

I am not suggesting that horses don’t deserve the best care possible. I am just suggesting that I expect a society that provides the best care possible for horses to also provide the best care possible for student athletes. After all, “a horse is a horse, of course, of course . . .”

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