Near the end of the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Sir Winston Churchill sent a telegram to a British Olympic champion, congratulating him on his victory.
The recipient was a horse.
Named Foxhunter, he was “possibly the most famous showjumper of modern times,” according to The Sunday Times. Churchill was excited because the strong Welsh nag carried his rider, Sir Harry Llewellyn, to Britain’s sole Olympic victory that year.
With 21 gold medals and counting, U.K. leaders probably won’t be writing any letters to horses this year. Still, like athletes, horses can perform great sporting feats. They can also suffer career-ending injuries. It’s no wonder then that the high-tech Olympic Polyclinic for human Olympians has a horsey counterpart, the equine clinic.
Trot, trot to London: GE ultrasound technology is working at the Olympic equine clinic in London.
The clinic’s doctors and staff are caring for hundreds of horses carrying some 200 Olympic riders. They are competing for six gold medals in the Olympic equestrian disciplines of dressage, jumping, and eventing (jumping combined with dressage and a cross-country race). Last week, for example, several horses slipped and riders fell during a challenging cross-country leg of the eventing discipline.
GE has supplied the clinic with portable digital ultrasound technology to monitor the health of horses. Many racing injuries and traumas can end a horse’s career. But advanced imaging technology can help veterinarians quickly find an accurate diagnosis and determine the best possible treatment for recovery.
The GE ultrasound systems help doctors analyze tendons, ligaments as well as the abdomen of the horses and obtain high-quality images of strains and lesions to pinpoint their exact locations. Ultrasound can also measure the speed of blood flow in soft tissues and help doctors see the extent of an injury.
“The GE diagnostic ultrasound equipment used at the Equine Clinic is an excellent tool to help evaluate the tendon and ligament injuries which competition horses are prone to,” says Roger Smith, Professor of Equine Orthopaedics at the Royal Veterinary College and one of the specialists working at the Equine Clinic during the Games. “The quality of the images it produces helps us decide on the best possible treatment for the horse, giving it the greatest chance of full recovery.”