Using Stride Parameters to Prevent Racing Injuries

Stride changes during races and works could help identify horses at risk of impending injury.

Using Stride Parameters to Prevent Racing Injuries
Monitoring speed, distance, and stride data might help predict and prevent racing injuries. | Photo: iStock
As the horse racing industry continues to search for ways to prevent catastrophic injuries, researchers are evaluating a variety of potentially predictive factors. One of those is a racehorse’s stride characteristics.

Chris Whitton, BVSc, FANZCVS, PhD, head of the Equine Centre at the University of Melbourne’s Veterinary School, in Australia, has been looking at correlations between injury risk and racehorses’ stride length, speed, and frequency.

Researchers know that repeated application of high loads to bones and resulting bone fatigue contribute to injury in racehorses. “Cyclic loading leads to structural damage in any material—it’s like the laws of physics, we can’t avoid it,” said Whitton.

Detecting the bone fatigue in time to prevent injury, however, has proven challenging, as no imaging device can predictably detect microdamage, he

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Written by:

Alexandra Beckstett, Managing Editor of The Horse and a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as Assistant Editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse.

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