Poor performance essentially means any horse not meeting your expectations or their potential. This doesn’t necessarily only refer to competition horses. If your horse is used for hacking, but no longer leaves the yard willingly this would be considered a drop in their performance.
Poor performance investigation starts with thorough history taking. We will endeavor to identify when the problems started and whether there are any triggers. Next, we will examine the horse thoroughly at rest. During this examination we will pay particular attention to any evidence of discomfort along the back or neck that may not cause lameness but could result in pain for the horse. As with lameness investigation or vetting, we will now view the horse trotting in hand, perform flexion tests and view the horse lunged. In a poor performance investigation we will always ask you to bring your tack, so that this can be assessed and your horse lunged with their saddle on and so that we can view the horse being ridden. Sometimes we will assess the horse being ridden by more than one person.
Depending on the results of the static and dynamic assessments, we will then instigate a plan. This may involve switching to a lameness investigation if a subtle lameness is identified or imaging the neck and back if pain in that region is suspected. In some cases performing gastroscopy may be the next recommended procedure.
The causes of poor performance are extensive and varied. They include subtle lameness, back pain, muscle disorders, asthma, ill-fitting tack, varied gastric ulceration and many more. By working together and being thorough, we can identify the cause in your horse and instigate appropriate treatment.