Catastrophic Injuries in Racehorses
- discovered that most fatalities due to a skeletal injury are predisposed by horses training or racing with a pre-existing injury (Figure 1)
- demonstrated risk factors for some injuries include …
- hoof conformation
- toe grabs
- training intensity
- lay-up enhanced
- diagnostic techniques for detection of mild injuries
Recently, we have discovered that pre-existing injuries also play a role in fractures of the proximal sesamoid bone that result in fetlock breakdown, the most common cause of death in Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racehorses. With knowledge that catastrophic injuries are the acute manifestation of a more chronic process, we continue to work on understanding injury development to determine strategies for injury prevention.
Collaborations among the California Horse Racing Board Postmortem Program, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory system, Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing industries, our research laboratory, and research funding organizations (Center for Equine Health, UCDavis; Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation; Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association; Southern California Equine Foundation; USDA; and private donors) make this work possible.
Watch a short documentary clip summarizing the research involved in preventing racehorse injury.
The majority of fatalities due to fracture of a long bone are due to transient weakening associated with attempted healing of a pre-existing stress fracture.