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Turn the calendar back to 1957 and the typical Thoroughbred averaged 40 lifetime racing starts. Yet the average number of Thoroughbred racing starts has dropped to fewer than 14 today, says Bobby Trussell, co-owner of Walmac Farm near Lexington, Ky. Sharing his thoughts recently with readers of The Blood-Horse, Trussell doesn’t buy the conventional wisdom that the number of reduced racing starts is due to the breed becoming more fragile, a change in track surfaces or growing concerns about soundness issues.
Instead, Trussell believes it’s due to the over-medication of horses and changes in the way horses are shod. He says today’s horses don’t have as much heel, leading to more crushed heel syndrome problems. He’s convinced that keeping the coffin bone parallel to the ground reduces hock, stifle and hip problems. To prove his point, he says pictures of old-time horses show less toe and much more heel, especially in the hind limbs.
In late summer, racing in part of Australia was suspended due to an outbreak of equine influenza. With more than 5,000 horses identified with flu symptoms by early October, racing, breeding and hoof-care work have taken a big hit. While track shoers were hit the hardest, the ban also impacted other shoers as the movement of horses was halted in the New South Wales area. Some shoers estimate they may be out of work for as long as 6 months.