Horses that race as juveniles have a lower risk of career-ending injury compared to those that begin racing later on, according to data presented by researcher Tim Parkin and published in The Blood-Horse.
As a professor of veterinary epidemiology at the University of Glasgow, Parkin’s presentation addressed the data being used to lower and prevent the risk of injury for racehorses and other equines involved in sport activity. He noted that the skeletal strength of horses raced at the age of 2 reduced the risk of injury later in the horse’s life, and that switching trainers tended to result in a slightly higher risk of severe injury.
Since no two horses are alike, Parkin adds that measures such as eliminating runners with a 5% greater risk of injury than their counterparts would remove a great number of horses that would likely not suffer any damage in their life. Instead, he says that preventative measures should be taken to ensure the proper health and welfare of horses involved in these types of activity.
Parkin suggests that preparation beginning at the age of 2 will promote the horse’s strength and decrease their likeliness of injury. Extending the length of partnership between horse and trainer will also promote the horse’s well-being, as will creating less intense racing environments, a decrease in sprint races and avoiding a high number of runs on “off” surfaces.