Catastrophic musculoskeletal injury in racehorses in New Zealand

Increased public awareness of animal welfare issues has resulted in the need for racing jurisdictions to accurately measure the risk of injury and death to racing horses. Overseas there have been a large number of epidemiological studies looking at catastrophic injuries occurring during Thoroughbred racing, describing the types of injuries and possible risk factors.

However, there are little data on race day catastrophic injuries occurring in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses in New Zealand. In order to investigate catastrophic musculoskeletal injury in racehorses in New Zealand, a better understanding of the reasons for failure of horses to finish races and the risk associated with injury during racing is required. Epidemiological studies will be used to examine historical racing records to quantify the number of, and reasons why, horses fail to finish a race. Horses that failed to finish a race will be compared with horses that did not, to identify possible risk factors. The types of catastrophic injuries occurring on race day will also be investigated. These data can then be used to modify or change management or practices to reduce the risk of injury and improve welfare.

Project update

Six years of racing records for Thoroughbred flat racing have been analysed to quantify the incidence of horses failing to finish races. The results showed a low overall incidence of horses failing to finish a race, and quantified the variables that were significantly associated with incidence of horses failing to finish a race. 

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Want to know more?

Contact Chris Rogers for more information on this project, which is co-supervised by Erica Gee, Naomi Cogger and Charlotte Bolwell

Project Support

This work is funded by The New Zealand racing Board as part of the Partnership for Excellence

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