Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Protecting the safety of horses

Man, already taking too much time between posts - there goes my new year's resolution, I promise to be better. Here goes:

So much talk of catastrophic accidents in thoroughbred racing and other equine sports such as eventing, with the focus on racing surfaces and race-day medication practices.

The point is missed entirely in my opinion, the focus should be on the individual horses themselves. Some can run on asphalt and be just fine, others will get hurt running on cotton candy.

The equine endurance events have it right, during the races (some of which are 50 miles!) equine competitors have to pass an objective test on heart rate recovery called the CRI - cardiac recovery index. If they fail, they are immediately disqualified.

It's a known fact that subjective veterinarian opinions are unable to pinpoint when a horse is in danger of injury a great amount of the time. Which shouldn't be too much of a surprise, it is difficult to judge racing soundness when observing a horse at a simple walk.

So it says here first, watch the news for future complaints about the continuance of breakdowns even with 'safe' surfaces becoming more commonplace. Next up, maybe we'll get more drugs banned - but once again accidents will happen at an seemingly alarming rate.

Accidents DO happen, but many injuries (maybe 40%) can be prevented by identifying compromised horses during the training process - and not with a conventional vet check.

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