UC Davis veterinary ophthalmologists keep event horse on track for victory


Equine specialty team treats corneal laceration in time for winning spree.

The veterinary teaching hospital at the University of California, Davis, recently received an emergency visit from a champion event horse and enabled him to continue competing at a high level.  

Chatwin, a three-day eventer horse, scratched his eye when he was stretching after a competition, according to a UC Davis release. Frankie Thieriot, Chatwin's rider and owner, was referred to the veterinary teaching hospital and rushed the horse to see Mary Lassaline, DVM, PhD, DACVO, two and a half hours away at UC Davis.

After diagnosing the injury as a corneal laceration, Lassaline and her team sedated Chatwin for a standing examination that determined the horse's vision was still intact. Despite the good news, a significant triangular corneal flap was loose and required surgery, and there was an infection.

Photo courtesy of UC Davis“With the early intervention, expert diagnostics, aggressive medical care and the ability to monitor him closely to fine tune his medication, I was confident that he wouldn't lose his vision in that eye,” Lassaline says in the release.

Lassaline and her team placed a subpalpebral lavage catheter in the horse's right lower eyelid and treated it with ophthalmic solutions. Treatment continued with antibiotics, an antifungal, an anticollagenase and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Chatwin's condition improved. “I likened his vision to looking through lightly frosted glass,” Lassaline says. “Because he's such a young and fit horse, the tissue will remodel to the point where it's less and less cloudy over time.”

Chatwin remained in the hospital for five weeks. However, Thieriot had planned to enter the horse in an annual event limited to horses on his level, and he couldn't enter it later. Although Chatwin was still in the hospital, employees were able to exercise him so he was ready to compete.

“I don't really trust my horses with many other people,” Thieriot says. “The team at Davis was so fantastic, though, that I just knew they would do the right thing with him.” 

After being released, Chatwin won the competition Thieriot wanted to enter, as well as four other events, including the Galway Downs CCI 2-star national championship.

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