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By Liz Cornell

When a kind, athletic horse – one with an impeccable character who loves his job – suddenly becomes belligerent and unhappy, something is terribly wrong.

This is what Belinda Nairn was faced with unexpectedly while training Iron Spring Farm’s leading Dutch stallion Sir Sinclair late in 2006. She was getting him ready to show Intermediare I. “All of a sudden, one day ‘Sir’ did- n’t want to canter left, and he became uncooperative about going to the left. The only way I could get him to take the left canter lead was to pick up the right canter lead and do a flying change. I knew something was wrong,” remarks Belinda.

This was the first sign of a very long and frustrating road trying to diagnose a disease that is today common among humans, dogs and horses: Lyme disease. However, due to one unusual symptom that Sir dis- played, professionals were continually baffled as to what was really going on with this very popular breeding stal- lion.

Sir’s Early Career

Iron Spring Farm, located in Coatesville, Pennsylvania and Ocala, Florida, imported the young Dutch stallion at age four in 2003. He is by Lord Sinclair and out of a Flemmingh mare. In Holland he had already sired over three hundred horses. With excellent bloodlines and a wonderful temperament, it’s no surprise that at age five this handsome 17 hand bay was Reserve Champion for Five Year Olds here in the U.S., and the following year he won the National Championship for Six Year Olds. ”We were thrilled with his early successes and hoped that he would easily move up the levels,” owner Mary Alice Malone says.

At Iron Spring Farm, he was trained for the first two years by Dorie Addy-Crow under Belinda’s tutelage. At age six Belinda took over the training herself. He easily moved up the levels due to his natural talent and fan- tastic work ethic and even won a Prix St. Georges test at age seven at Lexington, Virginia with a score of

72.5%. According to Belinda, “He’s an absolute joy to ride and train since he gives me 150% every day.”

Trouble Begins

“Not long after the Lexington show, we came to Florida for the winter season at the end of 2006, and we were working on the Intermediare I test while schooling the Grand Prix. Sir was doing so well that in the back of my mind I thought we had a shot at the Pan Am Games the next year,” Belinda explains. “Then I experienced that fateful day when he didn’t want to travel to the left. I was instantly concerned since this was completely out of character for Sir. We immediate- ly called in veterinarians to assess his problem.”

They received three different diagnoses. “One vet thought it was a problem in his back, most likely his sacroiliac. Another thought it was his hamstring, and the other felt it was in his hocks,” she reports. They had to work through multiple injections, and go through the process of “wait and see” for each treat- ment. Yet there was still no sign of improvement.

The vets conducted numerous in-hand tests for neuro- logical problems, and he was never even slightly posi- tive. They also ran blood and urine tests, and he tested positive for Lyme, but all horses will test positive to a certain degree. His results were slightly above normal, yet they still weren’t convinced. They treated him for Lyme anyway using the antibiotic Doxycycline for thirty days, but his handlers weren’t certain if he was responding. At that point Belinda wasn’t sure either, so they stopped the treatment.

Strange Symptom

Meanwhile, a new symptom had developed that baf- fled everyone. “Sir began dribbling urine and we dis- covered little puddles underneath him now and again.

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