Veterinary epidemiologist, Dr. Tim Parkin from the University of Glasgow, stated in a presentation recently that equine injury data shows that horses who have raced as 2-year-olds are at a decreased risk of career-ending injury compared to those who did not. This is some pretty interesting news. Especially with the number of injuries suffered by horses that race.
Parkin has pointed out this correlation before in his study of data from the Equine Injury Database. Ollie O’Donoghue wrote that Dr. Parkin attributed this difference to a possibly increased skeletal strength in horses who raced at two years old. And perhaps this is true.
How and Why Does This Happen
According to equine orthopedic experts, bone strengthens in response to the forces applied to it. The thought is that a 3-year-old horse who starts racing at three will not have built up the skeletal response to the forces of racing as compared to a 3-year-old who campaigned the previous season.
The difficulty for researchers and veterinarians is in finding the ideal amount of time between a more intense bout of exercise and the completion of the skeleton’s response to that exercise.
Dr. Parkin also noted the other trends isolated from Equine Injury Database info. Including that horses are at increased risk of career-ending injury if they have recently switched trainers, are running on an ‘off’ surface, or are intact males.
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