The Most Common Horse Racing Injuries

The Most Common Horse Racing Injuries

Injuries are one of the most common side effects of racehorse training and competition and even retired race horses are at higher risk for these injuries than horses that have never competed professionally. A study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2005 found that injuries are the second leading cause of death in horses, second only to old age. Here are the most common racehorse injuries.

Ligament and Tendon Injuries

The most common ligament injury in racehorses is that of the suspensory ligament. This ligament is a major component of the horse’s suspensory apparatus and injury can occur anywhere along its length in both the hind and forelimbs. Tendons connect muscle to bone and the most common of these injuries is to the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT), often referred to as a “bowed tendon”.

Long Bone Fractures

Fractures to a racehorse’s long bones can be difficult at times to treat successfully, but many have a good prognosis for a healthy life and a possible return to racing. The most common long bone fracture in is known as a condylar fracture which is typically treated with a surgical lag screw fixation and many suffers return to racing at a similar level of competition.

Bucked Shins

Normal adaptive changes to the cannon bone occur during regular racehorse training exercises, however bucked shins occur when these adaptive changes become pathological manifestations. Bucked shins would most definitely affect your chances of Cox Plate betting success and occur when cannon bones of the racehorse remodel in response to the training stresses placed upon them. At times this remodelling – which is intended to strengthen the bones – can become overwhelmed resulting in lameness or soreness in the front of the cannon bone.

Chip Fractures

Osteochondral fragments or bone chips are somewhat small fractures which may occur within a racehorse’s joints. These types of fractures are referred to as osteochondral as they normally involve both cartilage and bone. These tiny fragments of bone or cartilage cause inflammation within the joint and are most common in the front fetlocks and knees, however chip fractures can occur within any of the racehorse’s joints.

Sesamoid Fractures

The most commonly discussed sesamoid bones are the ones at the back of the front and rear ankles, even though there are many different types of sesamoid bones in a horse. These small bones act as a lever and have attachments to the suspensory ligaments of the front and rear limbs and the most common injury to these bones is a fracture. The treatment prescribed will differ depending on the degree of damage as injuries of this type vary greatly in severity.

Synovial Injuries

Joint injury is often times limited to the join capsule only and the terms used to describe injuries of this type are synovitis or capsulitis. Synovial injuries are generally less severe than those involving chips or fractures and the treatment is therefore less extensive as well. The treatment of synovial injuries is generally restricted to intra-articular injections or simply physical therapy.


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