HORSE RACING

How often do injuries occur?
Reducing injuries to our equine athletes must be the number one priority for everyone in
the racing industry. While careful management and regulatory oversight of the racehorse
during both training and racing does help prevent injuries, it cannot eliminate them

Fatality statistics for horse racing in North America are compiled through the Equine
Injury Database, which is administered by The Jockey Club. Based on an analysis of
1,160,045 starts collected during the three-year period January 1, 2009, through
December 31, 2011, the prevalence of race-related fatal injury in North America was 1.91
per 1,000 starts. For individual years, the prevalence of fatal injury per 1,000 starts was
1.98 for 2009, 1.88 for 2010 and 1.88 for 2011.

The long-term goal of the database is to accurately identify the factors which may cause a
horse to be at increased risk for sustaining an injury, as well as research priorities for the
prevention of injury. Prevention of injury must be the industry’s highest priority.

Note: Injury rates vary between tracks and racing surfaces. Some racetracks have made
their injury data available to the public. For a list of tracks with accessible data, click
here: http://jockeyclub.com/initiatives.asp?section=2

Are there procedures in place to ensure horses are healthy before they race?
Equine athletes in most racing jurisdictions must pass a veterinary inspection on the day
they are scheduled to race. The inspection consists of an extended observation period
during which horses are viewed in motion and given a hands-on exam if the track
veterinarian feels it is needed.

The horses are also observed in the paddock before the race, the post parade and at the
starting gate. The track veterinarian has the authority to scratch any horse at any time
before the start of the race if the veterinarian feels the horse should not run.

However, the trainer and everyone responsible for the care of the racehorse play a critical
role in maintaining each horse’s overall health through responsible decision-making and
good management practices.
What is the role of medication?
Just like in human medicine, therapeutic medications given to racehorses are used to heal
or cure medical conditions. The use of therapeutic medication in racehorses is a complex
issue. Oftentimes, there is more than one way to address an illness or injury, and
veterinarians follow a set of practices and policies that correspond to the individual health
needs of the horse. Best practices within veterinary medicine demonstrate that
therapeutic medications play a vital role in ensuring the health of all horses when a
medical condition is present. Therapeutic medications are closely regulated in horse
racing, and veterinarians must follow the rules in the jurisdictions where they practice.

Are racehorses tested for drugs? What types of medications are allowed on race
In many respects, drug testing in horse racing is superior to that in human athletics.
Generally, a wider variety of drugs are tested for and many more samples are tested than
in human athletics. Medication(s) used to control exercise-induced pulmonary
hemorrhage (EIPH) are allowed in all states on the day the horse is racing. Non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory medications are permitted 24 hours prior to a race. Anabolic steroids
are banned for horses that are in competition. Other therapeutic medications are allowed
but not on the day of the race.

Is it safe to train and race two-year-old horses?
Several research studies in the last decade have indicated that exercising and even
competing racehorses at the age of two is better for the long-term soundness of the horse.
Researchers have also found that horses that began racing at age four were twice as likely
to die of catastrophic injury as horses that began racing at age two. However, certain
two-year-old horses are not able to withstand the rigors of racing and training, so there is
a need for additional investigation of conditioning and racing regimens for this group of
horses. Each horse is unique and should be treated as such.

Regarding the number of times two-year-old racehorses compete each year, statistics
from The Jockey Club show that modern two-year-olds run less frequently than ever
before, with the average number of starts being 3.2.

Note: For detailed research information, visit the Grayson-Jockey Club Foundation web
site: http://www.grayson-jockeyclub.org/resources/dec_03.pdf

What is the industry doing to help horses after their racing careers have ended?
The Thoroughbred industry has several new initiatives in place to find homes for former
racehorses and to provide funding for their long-term care. Many racetracks work directly
with the horsemen at their facilities to transition racehorses to second careers. In order to
receive accreditation by the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance, a racetrack must have
this type of program in place. While the owners of racehorses have the primary
responsibility for ensuring that horses are treated well after their racing careers are over,
there is a growing safety net within the racing industry to help those former athletes who
need assistance.

Note: You may be asked about programs in place at the track where you practice. This is
a good opportunity to share any personal efforts you devote to helping racehorses when
their careers have ended.

What is the Thoroughbred racing industry doing to ensure the safety of its athletes?
As an equine veterinarian, my highest priority is protecting the safety and well-being of
the horse. The industry is working to create safer racing surfaces, improve health
inspections for the horses, enhance drug testing and ensure systematic reporting of
injuries. Many equine medical research foundations are devoting significant resources to
discovering other advances and health breakthroughs. What’s good for the horse is good
for horse racing, and everyone involved in racing must embrace this principle.

General Injury Messages

If asked about the options for treating serious equine injuries:
       Because of the tremendous advances in equine medicine, more horses than ever
       before are recovering from serious musculoskeletal injuries that require surgery.
       Metal fixation plates, wire wraps, pins and screws are used to repair broken bones
       in horses, just as they are in humans. The major difference between horses and
       humans is that horses cannot understand or obey a doctor’s instructions to “lie
       down” until an injury heals, so they are not very good patients. (You can use your
       own experience with a similar injury as an example of successful treatment.)

If the injury is life-threatening and euthanasia has occurred or is probable:
        There are some injuries from which a horse cannot recover, and for humane
        reasons, the horse must be euthanized. These injuries include certain types of
        bone fractures or soft-tissue damage in the legs, which compromise the horse’s
        ability to stand or move. Prolonged use of slings, casts or braces prevents the
        horse’s vital organs from functioning properly. This can produce a second life-
        threatening situation for an injured horse in the form of laminitis or colic.
        Advances in veterinary medicine over the last decade have made it possible to
        save more horses from potentially life-threatening injuries. But the key is
        preventing injury from occurring. (Again, your own experience with a similar
        injury can be a valuable enhancer.)

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