Injury Prevention Research For Racehorses

24 August 2016

Minister for Racing Martin Pakula today announced support for a $5.25 million research project aimed at the early detection and prevention of bone injury to racehorses, thanks to its Victorian Racing Industry Fund.

The Andrews Labor Government is providing $2.25 million over the next three years for the Equine Limb Injury Prevention Research Program to better identify horses that may be at risk of serious bone injury.

Bone fractures in racehorses are often fatal and it is currently very difficult to identify which animals are most vulnerable before a lethal injury occurs.

In order to enhance the welfare of racehorses, the research program will seek to better understand:

  • how bones of horses respond to extended exercise
  • why some bones fail under repeated stress
  • how bones may be helped to adapt to stressors and repair accumulated damage.

The research will be used to develop management plans for trainers and the racing industry, including guidelines for the intensity and duration of training as well as the frequency of rest periods.

A state-of-the-art standing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine will also be purchased to examine bones and cartilage without the need for anaesthetic.

Racing Victoria is also providing $1.6 million and the University of Melbourne $1.4 million over three years to help conduct the research as part of their partnership program, the Equine Research Program.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Racing Martin Pakula

“The Andrews Labor Government is working to make racing as safe as possible for both horses and riders. This research will inform the future management plans for trainers and the racing industry.”

“As well as the welfare of horses and jockeys, this program will continue to strengthen and enhance Victoria’s medical and veterinary research capabilities here in Australia and internationally.”

Quotes attributable to Professor Chris Whitton, Head of the U-Vet Equine Centre

“Bone fractures are the most common cause of fatal injury in horses during training and racing and the key aim of our research is to investigate how we can minimise this risk.”

“The funding will go towards new equipment that will improve bone imaging, investigate bone mechanical and structural properties, and measure the loads generated in a horse’s limb while galloping.”

Quotes attributable to Racing Victoria Head of Equine Welfare and Veterinary Services, Dr Brian Stewart

“More than $300 million a year is spent on the training, care and welfare of Victoria’s racehorses and this major investment represents the industry’s commitment to improving the welfare of thoroughbred horses before, during and after their racing career.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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