What Causes the Most Serious Racing Injuries?

Several research papers presented at last December’s American Association of Equine Practitioners annual meeting in Las Vegas took an in-depth look at the causes of racing injuries with both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds.

When Do Injuries Occur?

Mark Martinelli, an equine veterinarian with California Equine Orthopedics in San Marcos, Calif., examined race videos of 117 catastrophically injured Quarter Horses that occurred at one track over a 4-year period. Some 39% of the horses were 3-year-olds while 32% were 2-year-olds. Some 55% of the races in which an injury occurred were run at 300 yards.

Martinelli says serious Quarter Horse race injuries have not been evaluated to the same extent as have Thoroughbreds. A big difference is that Thoroughbreds gain speed in the middle of the race and tire near the end while Quarter Horses gain speed as the race progresses and often cross the finish line at nearly 50 miles per hour. At the shorter distances, Quarter Horses run in a straight line from start to finish while Thoroughbreds move to the inside rail to save ground.

The study looked at age, type of race, race sequence, post position, trainer and jockey. Incidents such as bumping, stumbling, the spot in the race where the injury was sustained and whether the jockey fell off were also recorded.

The most serious injuries involved the back or metacarpus. Most catastrophic injuries involving the carpus did not result in a fall, the jockey was able to detect the injury quickly and ease the horse…

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Frank lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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