Anky: Salinero Won't Compete in WEG Dressage, Still Mending

Two-time Olympic gold medalist dressage mount Salinero will not be competing at the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games due to ongoing complications from having injured his withers, according to his owner, trainer, and rider Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands.

"As long as it hurts to have a saddle on him, he won't be ridden," van Grunsven said.

Swelling and sensitivity in the withers seemed to have appeared suddenly overnight two months ago, according to van Grunsven. She said after an initial exam, veterinarians estimated a three-week down time. "But unfortunately, he's just not getting much better," she said.

In fact, the situation actually worsened, with the development of an infection in the area. "The withers get really hot from being infected," she said. "We keep the area cool with compresses, but overnight it just heats up again."

X-rays revealed small fractures, and the tissue surrounding the bony processes of the vertebrae that make up the withers seems to have suffered trauma. The 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding might have gotten his withers stuck against the walls while lying down or rolling, she said. "That's a bit surprising, since we installed new cushioned walls in all the stalls just a year ago, but somehow he hurt himself anyway," she added.

Treatments have included a variety of local injections and topical creams to fight the pain, swelling, and infection, but none of them has been very effective so far, van Grunsven said. Despite the new, stricter doping regulations by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the governing body for equestrian sports, she is not limiting the kinds of medicines Salinero needs. "At this point I'm not even thinking of competition anymore," she said. "The important thing now is to get him feeling better."

The choice to not compete at WEG was hers, not her veterinarian's, she specified. "I just don't see any reason to force the healing process," she said. "This isn't one of his first international events, where he's trying to prove himself. And it's not like it's his last, either.

"Throughout his entire career he's only been out of competition due to injury once, seven years ago. He deserves to be able to take his time to heal now."

Even so, Salinero seems somewhat disappointed by the decision, according to van Grunsven. "He clearly misses his work," she said. To help him keep fit and to improve his morale, she has been working him on the longe line, and he is being grazed and hand-walked regularly.

IPS Painted Black, van Grunsven's other Top 10 world-ranking dressage mount, has been having inconsistent results and will also stay home from WEG, she said.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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