Episode 1: The Story of Why We Are Here
Audrey DeClue, DVM, PLLC introduces the inspiration and focus of The Horse First Podcast.
Hi, I’m Audrey DeClue. I’m an equine sports medicine veterinarian, and this is The Horse First. This podcast is to put the horse first, to be their voice, to be their advocate, to give owners hope that their horse can be fixed. I hope that you can join me for the ride of undiagnosed horses in the field of equine sports medicine.
Welcome to The Horse First Podcast. I’m Audrey DeClue. I’m your host. I believe that every person has a story. But more importantly, I believe that every horse has a story too. Any owner, rider, trainer, groom, that’s in the sport horse industry, knows her horse. You know your horse better than anyone. You know how it feels under saddle, how it picks up its feet, how it acts when you groom it, when it’s off or not right. It may be a sudden or gradual change; you just know something’s wrong because the horse is acting differently or just feels and moves differently under saddle. So you ask the vet to come out. They flex, block, radiograph, bone scan, I mean, sometimes MRI your horse, and find nothing. They say nothing’s wrong; can’t find anything. They recommend to keep working it. You have absolutely no answers; except the horse is not getting better. You’re feeling it. It’s only getting worse and you know that something’s wrong, and now your horse is visibly lame, and now you’re having real performance issues in the show ring. And this is the horse’s story. So why am I here, and what is my story? The first part of my story is that I’m here today because I realized that there’s a huge void between the performance of the horse, the injuries that occur, the diagnosis given or not given by the veterinarian, and the future outcome of the horse’s career. I mean so many horses careers are ended early by not being diagnosed correctly or early enough. If you’re an owner, trainer, rider, veterinarian, vet student, technician, farrier, groom, anyone in the horse industry: This podcast is to help you recognize why your horse is having performance issues, where and why they are occurring, and how to fix them. We’re going to talk about injuries and lameness issues that have been occurring in horses for hundreds of years that have gone under and undiagnosed; and we’re going to talk about challenges facing the horse industry in an open guest forum so that you understand all points of view from the veterinarian, trainer, rider, groom, and owner. I mean, I don’t have all the answers. I’m just willing to keep searching for the answers because they’re right there in front of me when I’m looking at the horse.
So the second part of my story and why I’m really here is to save horses lives. That leads me to also discuss fact I’m doing research. For those of you that know me, my clients and that, you know that research is totally not my gig. I’m a true private practitioner. My colleague, Dr. Kathy Seino and I are currently working on a research study for the treatment of Shivers in horses. For listeners out there, Shivers is the condition in horses that affects their ability to pick up their hind legs and they have difficulty backing. When you do pick up their legs. They literally shiver and bring their leg out away from their body, but what’s really happening is a severe uncontrollable muscle spasm. Owners, farriers, and grooms are usually the first to notice this change and then it starts affecting the horse’s performance. It’s a very painful and progressive condition that is affected horses for literally thousands of years, and it’s baffled owners and veterinarians of its cause and there was no known treatment until now. For the last several years of colleague and I, we’ve been successfully treating these sources, whichever is I think we’ve got over 60 some, close to 70, over 70 cases. I don’t know I haven’t done the numbers. We did not know that no one else was treating them. To me, we just saw the problem and treated it. Obviously, I didn’t pay attention in vet school when they were talking about this condition and so I didn’t have a preconceived idea it couldn’t be treated. I wasn’t limited by what could or could not be done. I saw the problem, treated them and they got better. All of them. You see, shivers is caused by an injury. An injury that was undiagnosed. Worst of all, which is the hardest part for me, I found out that horses were being euthanized because owners had no direction or hope for their horses. They just had to watch the horses progress in severity; knowing that nothing they or anyone else supposedly could do. I mean, I realized I had to do something. I had to save these horse’s lives. So, I wanted to share the treatment in 2016, but I found out that just sharing the information wasn’t good enough. I mean, how crazy is that? To have a treatment for something that’s been around for thousands of years and told that no one would acknowledge that it works. I had to prove with scientific data, which means: charts, graphs, numbers… that most people don’t know how to interpret anyways unless you have a Ph.D. in biomechanics. I have hundreds of videos before and after treatment of these horses. Last year I did over 25 horses. I mean I can show these videos to people that know nothing about horses and they can see that these horses are better. They can pick up their legs normally, back comfortably, and just look and move comfortable. They don’t even know horses and they can see a difference. So, it came down to the fact that I had to wait; which, I’m not good at. I had to figure out how I was going to go about doing the research study. I mean, that’s the last thing I wanted to do or knew how to do but I had to do it for the horses. So, we’ve completed the first group of horses in the study – and all the scientific data: the charts, graphs, numbers – all that stuff sent off publication. Finally; but there’s still so much more to do. All I know is that I couldn’t have done it without support but I want to give a huge grateful thanks to Rebecca Shabbly, Anna Jean Cursio, who personally have dealt with their own shivers horses, Louise Otten, and Beth Cabot and all my other clients who believed in me and we’re willing to take a leap of faith and financially support the research study.
It has been, and still is, a huge undertaking; and I want to share that story with you in the later podcast but it is the story that brought me here today. So thanks for listening. Most importantly, thanks to the horses who have been my greatest teachers. Any feedback, please let me know by going to DeClue-Equine.com. Goodbye, and let’s start listening to the horses’ stories so that they have a voice.