Neurectomy and de-nerving - what can a horse legally take part in?

nicole11

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I have a horse on loan that had a bilateral neurectomy on his hind legs a few years back, I think due to a suspensory injury from eventing but I am not sure. He is an incredibly talented horse and I am hoping that over my loan period I get the opportunity to learn a lot from him and get to do a bit of everything, before the possibility of buying my own horse arises.

I am hoping to do some local competitions with him, usually unafilliated so it shouldn't be an issue. However, I was wondering if anyone had a grasp of what competitions I could legally partake in with him (BD/BSJA/BE)?

NB: I know this is an incredibly controversial topic so I would like to keep this thread as facts rather than people's opinions on the surgery. I did not choose to do it to him, it was years before he moved to my yard, I am just doing what's best for him now that he has recovered well from it.
 

ihatework

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If it’s the PSD op, which I suspect it is, IMO it’s a perfectly ethical operation - it’s so specific & if it works has a huge positive impact on the horse without putting them at further unreasonable risk of catastrophic breakdown. If the horse is happy then performance wise the horse should have no issue with doing BE/BD/BS.

The issue could be the rules. I’m not up to speed on the current interpretation and I did hear 3rd hand it had changed, but haven’t needed to confirm that myself. It used to be that you couldn’t compete a de-nerved horse affiliated. Now I’m sure that rule was really put in place to rule out the old fashioned lower limb denerved horses, quite rightly too. But it technically also applied to those having had PSD ops.

FWIW there will be stacks of horses out competing (at a high level) who have quietly had this operation. If it’s a concern to you it would be worth checking the current rule interpretation with the governing body
 

nicole11

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Thank you so much, I am fairly certain it was a PSD op but could double check with the owner if I needed to as she's great at keeping in touch.

I did wonder if it was worth just emailing the relevant bodies and outright asking. Then I know for certain :)
 

ester

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BE is currently still 'A limb, or part of a limb, is hyposensitive or hypersensitive (both of which shall constitute “abnormal limb sensivity”). Hypersensitive limbs have an excessive or abnormal reaction to palpation. Hyposensitive limbs include any alteration in sensitivity induced by a neurectomy or chemical desensitisation for as long as the alteration in sensitivity persist'.
Given that nerves often grow back after a PSD neurectomy it is often argued that limb sensitivity is no longer altered...
 

nicole11

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Hi Ester, the lady at BE emailed me back so quickly with the exact same thing you have said. I would need to have him vet-checked for sensitivity before I could compete but it's not completely out of the question.

A couple of folk at my yard had totally panicked me that he couldn't do anything so this has been really positive so far!
 

nicole11

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British dressage replied with, "We align ourselves with the FEI and horses which have been denerved are not permitted to compete under FEI or BD rules."
 

ester

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Did they quote the FEI rule? The only one I can see is

'Any surgical procedures that threaten a competing Horse’s welfare or the safety of other Horses and/or Athletes must not be allowed. '

and
Horses are not permitted to compete in FEI Events: a) with hyposensitive or hypersensitive areas of the body; b) with a tracheotomy/tracheostomy (i.e. a surgical opening through the skin into the trachea); c) following gene doping (i.e. the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements or the modulation of gene expression having the capacity to improve performance); and d) following blood doping, or similar methods
 

nicole11

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They didn't, but I am assuming it will be the second. However, I asked if, like the BE ruling, you could compete if a horse was signed off by a vet as having normal sensitivity following the procedure but she insists that it's the procedure itself that excludes the horse. So, based on that the FEI rule of 'hype/hypo sensitivity' wouldn't apply as the horse wouldn't be affected by it.
 

ihatework

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They didn't, but I am assuming it will be the second. However, I asked if, like the BE ruling, you could compete if a horse was signed off by a vet as having normal sensitivity following the procedure but she insists that it's the procedure itself that excludes the horse. So, based on that the FEI rule of 'hype/hypo sensitivity' wouldn't apply as the horse wouldn't be affected by it.
And that is why, doing anything under BD, is like banging your head against a brick wall. It really is an organisation I find highly frustrating.
 

sidewaysonacob

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When I researched it a few years ago, any UK Riding Club affiliated with British Riding Clubs (not all are) had to follow FEI rules regarding equine welfare so technically their events, shows etc. are out too :(
 

ester

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The thing is if they are following the rule I copied above, re hypo/hyper sensitive again if the horse tests 'normal' you have evidence that it isn't.
 

Red-1

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I asked all 3 affiliated organisations a couple of years ago when Jay had a suspensory injury, and they all said that no, he would not be able to compete.

My vet (senior partner in major vet hosp)was also at pains to tell me that if he had the operation, although he wold be sound and enjoy his work, it would render him unusable for competition. That was 2015.
 

nicole11

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I am lucky enough to be registered with the Royal Dick Equine Practice in Edinburgh so might be worth getting them to have a look and test him, as per the rule Ester posted :)
 

Shay

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Pony Club and BRC also follow the FEI ruling - but if limb sensitivity is unimpaired then you would be eligible to compete.
 

Laafet

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It is mainly due to neurectomy being seen as the front limb one where there is little sensation. For the PSD op, it is such a deep structure they have sensitivity, as I can confirm that mine will put his foot in your face if you run a pen down his legs!
 
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