Horse Racing Injury Prevention

Photo: California’s Racing Safety Program

Photo Courtesy of Mary Beth Whitcomb

Photo: California’s Racing Safety ProgramCalifornia’s Racing Safety Program

The California Horse Racing Board initiated the Racing Safety Program in July, 2010 to address the requirements of the Business and Professions Code and to reduce the incidence of debilitating and fatal injuries at California race tracks and training facilities.  The Program has 3 parts.

  • The Necropsy (Postmortem) Program is conducted by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS), University of California, Davis. Necropsy examinations are performed by veterinary pathologists, specifically trained for this purpose, who examine all body systems to determine cause of death and identify other abnormalities that may have affected horses’ health. This program has been in place since 1990.
  • The Track Safety  engineers are developing parameter ranges for safe track operations. The goal is to maintain race surface consistency. Field and laboratory measurements of surface parameters are compared to surface composition. These comparisons guide surface management so that surface parameters are kept within a range of safety
  • The Racing Injury Prevention Program was conducted in collaboration with the JD Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory, University of California, Davis. The program was conducted from July, 2011 through June, 2013 because of the high fatality rates from musculoskeletal injuries and attrition due to mild injuries that adversely affect equine welfare and the industry.

A seminal finding is that pre-existing injuries predispose to catastrophic bone fractures; therefore, injuries are preventable. Further, factors such as training and racing schedules and race surface are associated with development of injuries.  Consequently, factors can be managed to reduce injury rates.

Racing Injury Prevention Program

UCDavis CHRB Racing Injury Prevention Program 2011-2013 Report

Continuing Education

Using the research and findings from these programs a comprehensive education program designed to educate licensees is being developed for injury prevention in equine athletes. Training materials contain an overview, interactive information, how to movies, and self-assessment sections.

Education Modules

(These 3 modules should be viewed in a current version of Firefox on a Mac, or Internet Explorer on a PC)

Racing Safety Program Overview Module (this will take you out of this website. Hit your BACK button to return)

Humeral Fractures Module (this will take you out of this website. Hit your BACK button to return)

Scapular Fractures Module (this will take you out of this website. Hit your BACK button to return)

Post Mortem Injury Examination

The video contained in the link below contains graphic material, viewer discretion is advised.

Postmortem Examination of a Racehorse Forelimb Fetlock Breakdown

Equine Fracture Pamphlets & Diagrams

Humeral Fractures Technical Notes

Scapular Fractures Technical Notes

Bone Fracture Diagrams link contains a zip file containing multiple Word Documents, each of individual bones.

Equine anatomy forelimb and hindlimb bone posters

Related Links

VIDEO

Racehorse Track Maintenance Procedures (for Dirt & Synthetic)

Development of the UC Davis Track-in-a-Box for Racehorse Track Surface Evaluation

VIDEO of drassage horse on different surfaces

Dressage horse extended trot on a dirt surface

Dressage horse extended trot on a synthetic surface

VIDEO of racehorses on different surfaces, courtesy of Mitch Taylor

Racehorse front hoof interaction with deep surface

Racehorse front hoof interaction with dirt surface- zoomed on hoof

Racehorse front hoof interaction with hard surface

Racehorse front hoof interaction with mud

Racehorse front hoof interaction with synthetic surface

Racehorse hind hoof interaction with dirt surface

Racehorse hind hoof interaction with dirt surface- zoomed on hoof

Racehorse hind hoof interaction with synthetic surface

ARTICLES

3D Model of a Horse Muscle

PRESS RELEASE

BloodHorse: "UC Davis Studying Humerus, Scapula Fractures"

UC DAVIS News and Information:"Preventing injuries to horse racing jockeys"

Paulick Report: "Half of falls result in substantive jockey injury"

UC Health: "Preventing injuries to horse racing jockeys"

Futurity: "To protect jockeys, protect horses first"

Medical Xpress: "Preventing injuries to horse racing jockeys"

My Horse World: "Cutting horse injuries will reduce jockey falls"

AUDIO

Capital Public Radio: "Quarter Horse Racing More Dangerous Than Thoroughbred Racing"