The great Arthur is retiring from eventing ahead of what was meant to be his eighth start at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event next week. Allison Springer confirmed that the 18-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Brandenburg’s Windstar X Kelly) has been diagnosed with an aortic regurgitation.
“Arthur is my one of my oldest friends. He and I have travelled the world together, and we have had many moments of triumph and some moments of heartbreak, but in every moment, he has been my partner and I have always been incredibly proud to get to ride him,” Allison said.
“Arthur is so much more than just a horse to me, and risking his well-being is something I would never be willing to do. While I am of course sad to see his retirement from eventing come a bit prematurely, I will forever cherish our memories together and the incredible partnership we share.”
Due to the aortic regurgitation, the veterinary team of Dr. Susan Johns, Dr. Kent Allen and cardiovascular specialist Dr. Virginia Reef determined along with Allison and the members of the Arthur Syndicate that retiring Arthur was in the horse’s best interest.
“Arthur recently developed leakage from the aortic valve, a common degenerative problem in older horses,” Dr. Reef, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center, said.
Dr. Reef performed an ultrasound examination of the heart, which revealed the severity of the aortic regurgitation. “Premature beats originating from the ventricle can occur during exercise in horses with aortic valve leaks that are not detectable during a resting examination,” she said.
Dr. Reef also performed an exercising electrocardiogram with Dr. Jessica Morgan, which revealed that Arthur had ventricular premature beats during exercise, several of which occurred early and in short bursts. Although occasional premature beats are seen in horses during competition, the severity of Arthur’s premature beats during more intense work prompted his retirement.
Dr. Johns, Arthur’s longtime veterinarian, said, “It has been a privilege to be part of Arthur’s support team for the past 12 years. It is a rarity for an upper level three-day event horse to have such longevity in the sport, and I am so grateful to have cared for this amazing partnership. Although we are heartbroken that we will not be able to cheer this pair on at future events, we are thankful for our many adventures together.”
The USEA cardiopulmonary research group is currently studying heart rhythms in event horses during competition, which Dr. Reef said is “very important in furthering our understanding of heart rhythms during rigorous exercise. Additional research is needed to understand the significance of heart disease and abnormal heart rhythms during exercise in sport horses.”
Allison and Arthur completed 38 of 44 FEI events they entered, with highlights including a USEF National Championship and an overall second place finish at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* in 2012. Later that year, the duo was named to the United States Olympic Team Short list before going on to finish sixth at the Burghley CCI4*.
Allison has requested that the ground jury still allow Arthur to complete his dressage test at Rolex next week before withdrawing from the competition to begin his retirement. An official retirement ceremony will be announced soon.
Arthur has meant an incredible amount to many people over the years, and the EN team members will always carry forward our many fond memories of this prolific athlete. Go Arthur!