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Researchers examined presale radiographs of 343 Quarter Horses in training to identify lesions associated with the likelihood of competing in cutting events, the likelihood of earning money and the amount of money earned during their 3- and 4-year-old years. Twenty-two views were obtained of the fetlocks, knees, hocks and stifles. Owners were surveyed to identify reasons the horses might have failed to reach competition, and the performance data was obtained from National Cutting Horse Association records.
Earnings data was not available for about half (165) of the horses, with definitive information on competition available for 103 of these (62%). Of these 103 horses, 29 horses competed, but did not earn money, and 72% (74 horses) did not compete at all. Lameness was the most common reason (22%) given for failure to compete, with stifle, hock and suspensory problems most common. The presence of mild bone spurs affecting the lower hock joints was associated with reduced earnings as a 4-year-old.
Most of the abnormalities identified on the presale radiographs of the 2-year-old cutting horses in training were not associated with subsequent performance. The authors acknowledge that many intrinsic and extrinsic factors affect the likelihood of success in a sport like cutting, and this makes identifying predictors of performance success or failure more difficult.
— Barrett MF et al. JAVMA 2018;252:108-115
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