Horses Becoming Wimps?

Many Thoroughbred racehorses aren't as tough today as their yesteryear counterparts, at least in the opinion of Bill Moyer, DVM, a professor and department head at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Moyer was one of several speakers during a therapeutic medication seminar for veterinarians at Churchill Downs on Oct. 31. The program, which attracted about 50 people, was one in a continuing series initiated this year by the Kentucky Equine Drug Council.

To build a better racehorse, Moyer suggested that horses be allowed to grow and thrive without being pampered; that the use of hormones and other chemical manipulations be halted; and that genetic disorders not be returned to the gene pool. He said "saleability" has become the driving force in matings.

"Let horses grow up to be horses," Moyer said. "Don't re-invent the couch potato."

For bones to develop, horses need to use them, Moyer said. He suggested that Thoroughbreds experience "little or no useful challenge when they're being raised for sale purposes," and therefore are easily injured when or if they make it to the racetrack.

In another presentation, Thomas Wood, PhD, of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Research Laboratory in Richmond, Ky., discussed how drug testing works, from sample collection to the chain of custody to testing procedures. He said the main stumbling block to standardized testing isn't equipment, which has been upgraded, but rather the lack of standardized rules. "It's virtually impossible to have standardized testing without standardized rules," he said.

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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