University of Helsinki in charge of equine medication during Helsinki International UB Horse Show

Helsinki International UB Horse Show is ranked as the highest, i.e., five star international show jumping competition. It brings the world’s elite of riders to Helsinki: 270 competing horse riders and 350 horses. The University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the Equine Hospital led by the Director Kati Niinistö are in charge of the medication of the race horses.

Helsinki International UB Horse Show is ranked as the highest, i.e., five star international show jumping competition. It brings the world’s elite of riders to Helsinki: 270 competing horse riders and 350 horses. The University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the Equine Hospital led by the Director <b>Kati Niinistö</b> are in charge of the medication of the race horses.

Veteriarians on-call Heini Koskinen and Jaana Paija are working during the competition.

– The most fantastic is to work with great and well cared horses. The horses are even better taken care of than their owners. We had to give liquid to one horse, but otherwise everything has gone well, they conclude.

– Horses and riders come from faraway distances. Long distances expose horses to transportation fever, which is a serious pneumatic infection. Usually riders and owners notice even smaller changes quickly. The medication of race horses is a branch of its own. If there are no serious symptoms, we aim to give the medication so that the horse can compete fairly soon, even during the same weekend. Only certain medicines, like pain killers prevent competition, says Kati Niinistö.

Massage and physiotherapy

The veterinarians of FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale, the International international governing body for all Olympic equestrian disciplines) check all the horses before the competition. Also the doping tests are carried out by the FEI vets. The University’s Equine Hospital only takes care of sick cases.

– Most racing horses get some kind of massage and stretching, both individually and physiotherapy as well. Competitions are successful, when we are not needed, says Kati Niinistö.

She adds that horses have a fairly sensitive stomach. That is why feeding is aimed to keep very much the same the whole time. Most people bring their own hay along.

5000 kilos of hay have been reserved for the competitions. 6000 tons of special fiber sand has been transferred to the horse arena.

Horses are like performance-trained athletes. Physiotherapist Heli Hyytiäinen says that physiotherapists work best in cooperation with vets.

– Animal physiotherapy differs from human physiotherapy only in the sense that the patient is different! Back pain is as common among horses as it is among people.

An interesting detail is that all animal physiotherapists are human physiotherapists by training. You specialize in horses later. Heli Hyytiäinen belong to a rare group of professionals. There are only two people in Finland carrying the title of MSc in Veterinary Physiotherapy from the London Royal College of Veterinary Science. One of them is her colleague at the Equine Hospital.

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine »»

Veterinary Teaching Hospital »»

Equine Hospital »»

Helsinki International UB Horse Show »»

Text: Karin Hannukainen
Photo: Ari Aalto
19.10.2012
University of Helsinki, digital communications


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