A veteran horse has qualified for a national dressage final at the age of 26, just months after surviving a blood clot.

Chestnut gelding Oscar received life-saving treatment from vets at Durham Equine in Spennymoor after he became dangerously ill with lymphangitis — an inflammation of the lymphatic system — and then suffered a blood clot.

Shortly after, he qualified for the Petplan Equine Area Festival Summer Championships by winning two classes at Alnwick Ford Equestrian Centre.

“To see Oscar at the grand age of 26 make a full recovery from illness and go on to thrive in a competitive environment is immensely rewarding for all of us who had the pleasure of treating him,” said equine vet Kyle Tindall-Read.

“He is lucky to be with us because his bout of lymphangitis was very serious, and then he developed a secondary condition where a vein in his leg became inflamed and a blood clot formed.

“If we hadn’t been able to resolve the condition, Oscar’s life may well have had to have been cut short for reasons of his own welfare. Needless to say, we are thrilled we were able to help him successfully recover.”

‘Leg the size of a tree trunk’

Durham Equine is supporting Golden Oldies Awareness Month, which runs during September and aims to put older horses and ponies in the spotlight, and help their owners best care for them.

Lestryne and Kyle with Oscar. Credit: VetPartners

Oscar’s owner Lestryne Wheldon is also backing the campaign.

“Oscar is the sweetest, most affectionate horse and it has been a real pleasure to have owned him for 20 years,” she said.

“At the age of 26 he’s showing no signs of slowing down and still has so much to give.

“When he was ill with lymphangitis it was a really worrying time. His left hind leg swelled to the size of a tree trunk and he was in a lot of pain,” she continued.

“I was devastated when the blood clot was diagnosed and didn’t know if he was going to recover, but the team at Durham Equine was amazing and they came out every day to care for him.”

Oscar also has navicular and has previously recovered from a fracture of his pedal bone after pulling off one of his shoes and standing on the nails.

“I’m really looking forward to the dressage finals and I’m hoping there’s no drama between now and then — I think I’m going to wrap Oscar up in bubble wrap,” added Lestryne, who is due to compete Oscar in the finals at Arena UK in Lincolnshire in October.

As well as bidding for the prelim dressage title, Oscar will contest the prelim dressage-to-music championship and his soundtrack includes Tina Turner.

‘Age is not a disease’

Kyle said that thanks to developments in veterinary medicine, horses and ponies are living longer and many of Durham Equine’s clients are over the age of 20.

Your Horse recently reported the story of Bamboo, who is still going strong at the age of 50.

“Age is not a disease and horses can live healthy, active lives for longer than many people may think — Oscar is a fantastic example of this,” said Kyle.

“It’s good news for older horses that we are able to identify and treat health conditions affecting them earlier, and can manage horses in their later days better than ever before so that they maintain a high quality of life for longer.

“Don’t forget that your vet is always on hand to help you and your horse, no matter their age.”

Read veterinary top tips for keeping an older horse healthy and happy for longer here.

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