British Study Looks At Training and Injury

Racehorse owners might one day be able to handicap a horse's risk of injury. A new study in its early stages at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in the United Kingdom is monitoring a group of two-year-olds with the intention of using the data for both orthopedic and training evaluations.

Researcher Joanna Price, BSc, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, and her team began their work by looking at human medicine's use of biochemical markers to evaluate bone loss from osteoporosis, and developing a parallel system for monitoring bone development and resorption in horses.

The RVC serum bone marker system was used to evaluate monthly changes in bones of two-year-olds as they trained over a year's time. While the study's data is still being analyzed, Price reports that they were able to identify marked similarities in bone changes of horses according to the type of training they received. Seasonal and gender-based changes were also evident in the results.

"Racing without (bone) injury is the consequence of an adaptive response in which load-bearing regulates bone cell activity to achieve and maintain skeletal architecture that is appropriately robust, Price noted. "The high incidence of injuries during training and on the racetrack implies that some current training practices may fail to achieve this objective."

An important part of the group's future studies will document the restructuring process of fractured bones. The next phase, following three-year-olds, will identify training programs that produce injury-resistant bones and test the markers' ability to predict fracture risk.

About the Author

Fran Jurga

Fran Jurga is the publisher of Hoofcare & Lameness, The Journal of Equine Foot Science, based in Gloucester, Mass., and Hoofcare Online, an electronic newsletter accessible at Her work also includes promoting lameness-related research and information for practical use by farriers, veterinarians, and horse owners. Jurga authored Understanding The Equine Foot, published by Eclipse Press and available at or by calling 800/582-5604.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More