Although many factors associated with catastrophic injury, including horseshoe characteristics, have been explored in the past, it remains unclear if these links are really causal and how they may be inter-related. This case-control study examined horseshoe characteristics and high-speed exercise history to determine if they are risk factors for injury on Florida racetracks.
The shoeing and exercise histories of 43 horses with catastrophic injury (out of 37,529 race starts) were compared to those of 377 control horses from the same races in which the injury occurred.
Most of the horses that started races (85 percent) wore toe grabs, while only 32 percent wore pads and 12 precent wore rim shoes. An extended interval between races and reduced high- speed exercise distance were both significantly associated with catastrophic injury. However only a small and insignificant link was identified between toe grabs and injury.
These results suggest horses that return to racing after an extended rest, which could be due to a milder injury or poor performance, are at increased risk of injury. A better understanding of training patterns and rehabilitation may be needed to help prevent catastrophic injury.
—Hernandez et al. AJVR 2005;66:1314-1320.
Because a horse’s teeth continue to grow and wear down with age…