Extent of Damage to Japan's Equine Industry Remains Unclear

Little new information has surfaced about the effect the March 11 earthquake and tsunami had on the Japanese equine industry.

As previously reported, much of Japan's Thoroughbred breeding industry--most of which is located on the island of Hokkaido--remained safe from severe damage, and no equine deaths or injuries have been reported. The island is home to American-bred and raced champions such as Charismatic, Empire Maker, and Silver Charm.

The Japan Racing Association has made the decision, however, to cancel the racing schedule at Nakayama Racecourse, located near Tokyo, through the end of March, BloodHorse.com reported. Racing is scheduled to resume April 17.

Outside the Thoroughbred racing industry, there is limited information as to how many farms suffered damage from the earthquake and tsunami.

"Most of the areas where the huge tsunami (hit) are deeply indented coastline areas surrounded by mountains, so there is little flat area and few equine ranches," Mikihiko Tokuriki, DVM, PhD, emeritus professor at Yamaguchi University, said in an e-mail. "Souma City, Fukushima Prefecture, which also was destroyed by the tsunami, (has been) famous for breeding horses for over 1,000 years, so some horses (in that area) may have been injured or killed."

Several organizations have begun collecting funds and supplies to send to Japan to aid in the equine and animal rescue missions. A few of these organizations include:

TheHorse.com will continue to provide updates as they become available.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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