Fetlock Injuries in Racehorses

Learn about the signs, diagnosis, and management of repetitive stress-related fetlock injuries in racehorses.
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Fetlock Injuries in Racehorses
When a horse runs at full speed, the bones in the fetlock area are placed under enormous strain and it’s common for horses to experience pain or injuries. | Photo: iStock
Repetitive stress injuries are common in Thoroughbred racehorses. They not only limit the animal’s performance capabilities, but can also lead to serious and career-ending fractures.

Last week, Dean Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, discussed the signs, diagnosis, and management of repetitive stress injuries in the racehorse at the Bain Fallon Memorial Lectures. The lectures were hosted by Equine Veterinarians Australia as part of the Australian Veterinary Association’s Knowledge Program.

“In my experience, it is without question that repetitive stress injuries of the bone are the single most important problem in racehorses,” he said. “The fetlock … of the racehorse is a high-impact area. When a horse runs at full speed, the bones in this area are placed under enormous strain and it’s common for horses to experience pain or injuries, which tend to be more intense in the forelimb, but very similar damage is also seen in the hind fetlocks.”

Richardson said the clinical signs of repetitive stress injuries can be quite broad

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