Injury Prevention Research for Racehorses

Having one of the best safety records world racing, Victoria’s horse racing industry is still striving to improve.

The Victorian State Government, Racing Victoria and University of Melbourne have invested $5.25 million on the Equine Limb Injury Prevention Research Program, a three-year research project to develop preventative training strategies and to better identify horses that may be at risk of serious bone injury.

Leading the project is Professor Chris Whitton BVSc FANZCVS PhD, Head of the U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre and a Specialist in Equine Surgery. 
The multilevel research looks at loads in the limbs, what we can do about the loads, how the loads are transferred to the bone particularly in the joints and how the bone in the joint responds to the loading, adapts to the loading and repairs injury that occurs over time.

Recently, a survey of 66 trainers showed a variation between how horses are being trained, with some trainers performing up to three times more fast work compared to others.

Also the team has developed a computational model of bone adaptation to training, this will allow a better understanding of how to best help horses get through the risk period associated with entering training and better adapt to their training load.

This research is important to help reduce the rate of fatal and chronic limb injuries in horses.

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