What We’re Learning From Horse Racing Research

Researchers worldwide are examining ways to prevent injuries in racehorses; their findings could help prevent issues in sport horses, as well.
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Research into injury prevalence and prevention in racehorses can translate to sport horses. | Photo: FLICKR CC via Colin Knowles

Researchers worldwide are examining ways to prevent injuries in racehorses; their findings could help prevent issues in sport horses, as well

When a racehorse suffers a catastrophic injury in a high-profile race, the industry makes headlines … for all the wrong reasons. In recent decades mainstream media has shone a spotlight on racing injuries, and industry organizations have poured thousands of dollars into investigating why they occur. As a result, we know a lot about the forces placed on these elite athletes’ bodies.

Much of the research has revolved around identifying risk factors for and ways to prevent catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Here, several university researchers from North America and abroad share recently published and ongoing studies on this topic, along with their potential impact on racehorse and sport horse health down the road.

Identifying Early Warning Signs

Preventing injuries is important not only for racehorse health but also jockey safety and public perception, says David Horohov, PhD, chair of the University of Kentucky’s (UK) Department of Veterinary Science and director of the Gluck Equine Research Center, in Lexington. He and his colleagues have been working on a series of studies investigating injury prevention

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Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

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