Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries, involving the fracture of a bone, take a heavy toll on racehorses in training and in competition. Research through the years has given the veterinary surgeon additional tools and knowledge to deal with these

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Catastrophic injuries, involving the fracture of a bone, take a heavy toll on racehorses in training and in competition. Research through the years has given the veterinary surgeon additional tools and knowledge to deal with these life-threatening injuries, and the result has been a higher survival rate than was recorded in the past.

To help make that point, let us tell the tale of two horses. One’s injury ended its life. The other, which occurred nearly a quarter of a century later, ended the horse’s racing career, but modern surgical procedures and emergency first aid allowed it to have a productive life in the breeding shed. This is not a comparison of injury, but an example of advances in veterinary medicine.

The Tragedy

The date is July 6, 1975. The race is a classic. Like two heavyweight boxing champions squaring off against each other with the championship of the world at stake. In one corner was the filly Ruffian. Beautiful. Tough. High-strung. Exceptionally talented. She had won 10 races in a row. So blazingly fast was this filly that she was in the lead at every call in each of those 10 races

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Les Sellnow was a prolific freelance writer based near Riverton, Wyoming. He specialized in articles on equine research, and operated a ranch where he raised horses and livestock. He authored several fiction and nonfiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse. He died in 2023.

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