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Horse stories - The story of Lola & ECVM

Lola was a jumping-bred KWPN mare. Little is known about her early years. When her last owner found her, Lola was very neglected. She was stabled 24/7 and ate poorly. She took her to a type of paddock paradise in the hope that she would recover. 



Lola was emotionally unbalanced and could react aggressively out of the blue. Despite her improved situation, her social behaviour and eating behaviour did not improve. A nutritionist was called in, but that also yielded little results. Lola was a little short-gaited and held her head crooked when she moved. When she started to deteriorate, Lola was taken to an equine clinic after a number of vet visits to have x-rays taken. This showed that Lola had ECVM. In the end, Lola was presented for dissection. 



We knew Lola had ECVM before we started the dissection, but that didn’t explain her poor eating behaviour. During the dissection we went looking for answers, and we found them quickly! During the dissection, we found out that Lola only had 1/3 of a normal chest cavity! 

Her sternum was much smaller than it should have been. This did not extend to the last rib, but to the 4th rib. The other ribs were fused and held together by cartilage. When we got to the stomach, we saw the consequences this had on digestion. The stomach showed many adhesions and the liver was smaller than normal. 

This could explain Lola’s poor eating behaviour. The vet or nutritionist couldn’t figure this out. Through the dissection, Lola has shared all of her secrets with us. 


Hopefully this case has inspired you and given you new insights so that Lola’s story will not be forgotten. The more horses we can study and compare, the more we learn! Would you like access to more stories like Lola’s? You can find these in the online Equinestudies course ‘The Horse Inside Out’.