Leading Canadian event rider Jessica Phoenix is back on track in pursuit of herOlympic dream, thanks to VetCell’s equine stem cell therapy, which wasused to repair a damaged tendon in her horse, Exploring.
Exploring, who is short and long listed for the Canadian eventing team, returned to competition in July following stem cell treatment to repair a damaged superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT).
His first outing was to the Maui Jim Horse Trials in Chicago USA where a flowing dressage test combined with foot perfect cross country and show jumping rounds took them to fourth place. Their success continued at Wits End CIC 3* World Cup Qualifier in Ontario in August where they achieved 10th place. Jessica then flew to the UK to compete in the Blenheim CCI 3* in early September and rode to a very credible 40th place against some of Europe’s finest eventers.
Exploring, known at home as Digby, is a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding and is Jessica’s top 3* horse in a string of five that she owns and rides. Purchased as a four-year-old, Exploring has steadily bounced up the grades with his determined rider.
In 2007 they were members of the Canadian Pan American eventing team in Brazil and in 2008 they were selected for the Canadian Olympic team, but then in July 2008 disaster struck.
Jessica said: “Following our last gallop just before heading out to Hong Kong for the Beijing Olympics we noticed heat in Exploring’s left foreleg. Our team vet Christiana Ober promptly scanned the leg and diagnosed a classic hypoechoic core lesion of the SDFT. It was one of the most heartbreaking times of my life.”
Dr Ober explained: “I have had some very good results with stem cell therapy for tendon and ligament injuries in three day event horses so I recommended that Exploring should be shipped home to Ontario immediately and admitted to the Toronto Equine Hospital for stem cell treatment.”
Under the expertise of Dr Peter Vatcher, bone marrow was taken from Exploring’s sternum while he was under sedation. The stem cells were isolated and multiplied to in excess of ten million and then injected into the site of the injury. The aim was to promote re-growth of the flexible tendon tissue rather than allow less pliable and more injury-prone scar tissue to form.
Post treatment, Dr Ober monitored Digby’s progress with ultrasound and oversaw his rehabilitation program which involved a slow, incremental exercise plan, culminating in a return to full flat work by the end of January 2009. Dr Ober travelled with Jessica and Exploring to their first post-treatment events and was impressed with their performance.
She said: “The leg looked super at Blenheim and we are now looking forward to him competing at the Rolex **** next spring.”
VetCell Bioscience pioneered equine stem cell procedures in the UK and is now the leading provider of stem cell technology to the world of animal health. VetCell’s Canadian partner is the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, with equine specialist Dr Laurie McDuffe heading up the service.