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Unfortunately, due to a family illness, 2010 was a


difficult year for Mary to devote any time to horses, so Deo and his companions were simply turned out. However, early in 2011 the situation changed and Mary was able to start Deo back with ground work. By March she was back in the saddle and has carefully put him in steady dressage training. “I’m excited to be back riding him again; he has made so much progress this year! But I have to make certain I don’t over-stress Deo since he still worries about his balance. I have him on ulcer medication, Vitamin E and Selenium and Magnesium. The hardest thing for him in the dressage work is the change of bend from one direction to the other. That coordination of his body to make the change in direction is difficult.” Mary is encouraged that some day they will be in the


show ring. “We’re schooling First and some Second Level work at home,” she says, “and all we can do is take one day at a time. I have no idea how far he can go in dressage. I feel blessed that I can even ride him again. It’s been a long three years getting there.”


I


The Swedish Warmblood BORJAN aka “George”


n 1999 when Marija Vulfs of Nevada City, California was 15 years old, she had big dreams of training a Warmblood to the upper levels of dressage. She went horse shopping and in Canada she found Borjan, a.k.a. Curious George, a big young Swedish Warmblood by Garrant out of Cicenette (by Ciceron). About six months after she purchased George, Lucy Parker, owner and trainer of Classical Hoofbeats Dressage in Penn Valley, California, noticed a very slight abnormality in George’s ability to shift his weight from right to left. This was their initial sign of what was soon to become a serious condition. “When the veterinarian came out to look at George, he said he looked racetrack sound and could not find anything wrong with him,” recounts Marija. “But I trusted Lucy’s eye so I took him to the veterinary clinic at U.C. Davis for a more thorough examination.” Dr. Pheobe Smith at U.C. Davis diagnosed George


with EPM and put George on a course of pyrimethamine/ sulfadiazine solution and vitamin E. (The popular Marquis treatment used today was not available at the time.) “Dr. Smith was a crucial part of George’s treatment. She was immensely informative and supportive throughout the process,” Marija adds. As the disease progressed, Marija’s once beautiful chestnut developed severe muscle atrophy and lost depth perception in his vision. He trembled whenever someone would touch him. He could only walk for three


Top: George in his early years while being treated for EPM. Photo courtesy Marija Vulfs Bottom: Marija and George recently schooling dressage. Photo by Susan Altman


Warmbloods Today 23


minutes. For a while she had to confine George to his stall. “At that time, some people recommended turning an EPM horse out in a pasture for a couple of years after treatment. They either recovered or they did not,” she remarks. Instead, Marija chose to do everything she could to avoid damage to George by carefully managing a controlled exercise program for him. Not understanding where his body parts were, she explains, “George would literally take one step sideways for every step he took forward.” His condition was heart breaking, but Marija was determined to see it through. Her trainer Lucy helped Marija set up a plan to manage George. “All the energy I formerly put into riding was channeled into the care of my horse,” she says. Marija created spreadsheets to document his progress recording medications, feedings, work and exercise, pulse respiration and temperature as well as notes about any changes that she observed. “The most frustrating aspect for me as a formerly goal-oriented dressage rider was that I had to give up my approach to progress,” Marija admits. “Micromanagement and steady increase in work did not always achieve positive results. I had to learn how to listen to what George told me. If I overdid the work by two minutes, the next day he would be worse instead of better.” In October of 2001 George went back to U.C. Davis


where Dr. Smith pronounced the EPM eradicated from George’s system. Clinically George was better, but the rehabilitative process was only just beginning. Lucy re-educated George spatially. They gradually desensitized


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