Science & Equine

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Written by Isabeau Deckers
Posted in Physiology

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Injury predictive factors in riding horses

Research is growing on wastage in sport horses and the factors like fitness and workload that may reduce injuries and maximise welfare. This article explores these key factors of injury prevention/ prediction in riding school horses.

The exercise tests seemed to reflect the training condition of horses well, but had no predictive value for premature training endings later on. Nevertheless, lower fitness levels revealed to be related to earlier training endings because of veterinarian arguments. As workload was similar in all horses, no analysis could be made on the influence of this parameter on injury prevention. 40.9% of all horses with a premature training end for veterinary reasons had already been diagnosed with that injury but did not stop training. This reveals that if horses are not treated/ rested for seemingly minor injuries a greater chance of injuries occurs later on. These findings warrant further investigation to prevent injuries and to improve the welfare of riding horses.

Expert opinion by Isabeau Deckers

Objective measurements of the actual welfare status of horses and critical evaluation of the causes of wastage may provide tools and clues to improve equine welfare. The fact that almost half of the injured horses in this study were still continued to be used in riding lessons against veterinary advice, with predictable and unfavourable results, may indicate that riding school owners have a different perception on the importance of the welfare of the horses.

> From: Munsters et al., Prev Vet Med 108 (2013) 199-208. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd.. Click here for the online summary.

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