Study Evaluates Exercise During Yearling Sales Preparation

Researchers collected information about health problems experienced by young horses being prepped for sale.

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In the equine world, the idiom "hit the ground running" is particularly fitting: Multiple studies suggest early exercise helps develop a foal’s musculoskeletal system and could even help prevent future injuries. However, the early exercise Thoroughbred yearlings being prepped for sale receive might have little effect on their musculoskeletal systems.

"Considering that musculoskeletal injury is the leading cause of wastage of Thoroughbred racehorses, finding ways to prevent such injuries would be invaluable," noted Charlotte Bolwell, PhD, a research officer at New Zealand’s Massey University Institute of Veterinary, Animal, and Biomedical Sciences.

"There is currently little information regarding the long-term effects of early exercise on a horse’s ability to race and train, and little is known about the health problems experienced by young horses being prepped for sale," Bolwell added.

Thus, Bolwell and colleagues analyzed the exercise programs of 319 yearlings on 18 different stud farms. The median number of days of sales preparation and exercise were 69 and 34, respectively. Handlers exercised the yearlings using various combinations of hand walking, mechanical walkers, and longeing

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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