Allison Springer and Arthur were entered to compete at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event for an impressive eighth time this year, but in the lead up to the event it was discovered that Arthur has developed a new heart arrhythmia. After extensive testing it was concluded that the 18-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Brandenburg’s Windstar x Kelly) should be retired from upper level eventing.
“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. 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,” said Springer.
Arthur and Allison Springer performing their dressage test on Friday afternoon. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Arthur has a long history of being in the top of the leaderboard following dressage at Rolex Kentucky, so as a fitting tribute the Ground Jury graciously allowed Springer and Arthur to perform an exhibition test as the final ride on Friday afternoon. The judges scored the test as a 38.3 which would have put them in third and been the pair’s lowest CCI4* score. As a longtime U.S. eventing fan-favorite, Arthur received a standing ovation in the Rolex Arena as he and Springer concluded their dressage test on Friday afternoon with a victory canter.
Watch Arthur's final Rolex ride:
Highlights of Arthur’s eventing career include completing 38 FEI events and earning the USEF National Championship and an overall second place finish at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* in 2012. They were also named to the U.S. Olympic Team short list for the 2012 Olympics. Their most recent success was winning the Carolina International CIC3* in 2016.
Pats for Arthur following his emotional dressage test. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
The USEA Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research Study
“Arthur recently developed leakage from the aortic valve, a common degenerative problem in older horses,” said Dr. Reef, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center. Dr. Reef performed an ultrasound examination of the heart, which revealed the severity of Arthur’s aortic regurgitation (leakage). “Premature beats originating from the ventricle (bottom chamber of the heart) can occur during exercise in horses with aortic valve leaks that are not detectable during a resting examination,” she said. Along with Dr. Jessica Morgan, Resident in Sports Medicine, Dr. Reef also performed an exercising electrocardiogram (tracing of the heart’s electrical activity), which revealed that Arthur had ventricular premature beats during exercise, several of which occurred early and in short bursts, increasing Arthur’s risk for collapse or sudden cardiac death during exercise. Although occasional premature beats are seen in horses during competition, the severity of Arthur’s premature beats during more intense work prompted his retirement from eventing to ensure the safety of this dynamic competitive pair.
The USEA Cardiopulmonary Study is currently studying heart rhythms in event horses during competition. “This research is very important in furthering our understanding of heart rhythms during rigorous exercise,” said Dr. Reef. “Additional research is needed to understand the significance of heart disease and abnormal heart rhythms during exercise in sport horses.”
To learn more about how you can contribute to the USEA Cardiopulmonary Research Study as a participant or donor, please visit www.useafoundation.org/projects.
A final send off. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.