Racehorse Training, Drug History Needed to Understand Breakdowns

We asked Prof. Tim Parkin about the data the Equine Injury Database collects on catastrophic racing injuries and how the industry could make it even stronger and more useful.
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Racehorse Training, Drug History Needed to Understand Breakdowns
When the precise reasons for catastrophic racehorse injuries aren’t clear, as is the case at Santa Anita, science—specifically, collections of data—can help. | Photo: Photos.com

Over the six-month meet at Santa Anita racetrack, in Arcadia, California, 30 Thoroughbred racehorses died or were euthanized due to injuries sustained while training or racing. When the precise reasons for catastrophic racehorse injuries aren’t clear, as is the case at Santa Anita, science—specifically, collections of data—can help. But for that data to be most useful for preventing future injuries, it needs to include comprehensive, accurate medication and training history data, says Prof. Tim Parkin, Sc, BVSc, PhD, DECVPH, MRCVS, veterinarian and epidemiologist at the University of Glasgow and consultant to The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database (EID).

An epidemiologist is someone who seeks to find the cause of health outcomes and disease in populations. In his EID role Parkin analyzes information on all horses at participating tracks that die or are euthanized as a direct result of injuries sustained while participating in a race and within 72 hours of a race (this includes musculoskeletal injuries, nonmusculoskeletal injuries, and sudden deaths). The database also contains information on training and nonracing fatalities, though those are not included in the EID annual statistics.

We at The Horse were curious about the data the EID is collecting and how the industry could make it even stronger and more useful, so we interviewed Prof. Parkin

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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