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Horse stories: The story of Elmo

Elmo was a thoroughbred gelding born in 2015. He was bred for polo sport, but his last owner bought him for eventing. He was 4 years old and not much had been done with him. He had a very sweet character and did what he was asked. In spooky or tense situations, he could have the tendency to shut down and so the owner brought him along slowly and build everything up gradually. Elmo was very underweight when he first came to her and he had problems with his digestion and body from the very beginning. After seeking out many different experts and treatments, x-rays of his back were taken. These showed that Elmo had very bad kissing spines. He was presented in September 2020 for a dissection. 


As always, my team and I went to see Elmo for an assessment. We were aware of his story and all the findings of the various experts, including the kissing spines. During the assessment, Elmo looked very good. You could clearly see that he was well cared for and there were (almost) no traces of the poor handling he had received before he came to her. His hindquarters stood out during the assessment. He often stood in odd positions, which may indicate poor proprioception. In walk, his pelvis had a lot of left to right movement, but not a lot of forward and down. There was also quite a bit of asymmetry. The pelvis and hindquarters are unstable and it looked like he was trying to compensate a lot in his pelvis. 


During the dissection, as the vet had already discovered, we found severe kissing spines. Also, his digestive tract was inflamed and looked unhealthy. In addition, there was another important finding: his pelvis was not fused! We sometimes see this in horses that are malnourished or overtrained at a young age or a combination of both. In the case of Elmo, this fits well with the owner’s story and ties in with the findings in our assessment. Elmo shared his biggest secrets with us! 


Hopefully this case has inspired you and given you new insights so that Elmo’s story will not be forgotten. The more horses we can view and compare, the more we can learn! Would you like access to Elmo’s full story? You can find it in the online Equinestudies course ‘The Horse Inside Out’; click HERE to go to the web shop.