Can This Technology Get Racehorses Off Drugs?

Thoroughbred horse racing in the US is addicted to drugs. It runs so deep that it has become the norm. And worse, because it is legal, it is seen as beneficial. Instead of a health-first approach to …

These image scanners add a significant diagnostic advantage, as traditional CT scans require the patient to lie down with the anatomy un-weighted, depriving the clinician of the ability to analyze the stressed areas of bone while under loading pressures.

Until this equipment was developed, horses needed anesthesia in order to have a CT scan performed. The inherent risks associated with general anesthesia, the need to go to a hospital for a test, and the cost of this procedure prevented widespread use of CT in the majority of racehorses in training and eliminated its use as a screening tool by racing regulators and track practicing veterinarians…

Learning From Horse Racing Research

Scientific Study on Horses & Injuries in Progress

Preventing injuries is important not only for racehorse health but also jockey safety and public perception, says David Horohov, PhD, chair of the University of Kentucky’s (UK) Department of Veterinary Science and director of the Gluck Equine Research Center, in Lexington. He and his colleagues have been working on a series of studies investigating injury prevention.

An assembled group including James MacLeod, VMD, PhD, and Jennifer Janes, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVP, of the Gluck Center; Laura Kennedy, DVM, Dipl. ACVP, of the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; and Mary Scollay, DVM, of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, are evaluating injury risks and possible precursors.

Horohov says their research thus far suggests that orthopedic injuries in racehorses are related to long-term effects rather than acute events. “It’s a chronic injury pattern that eventually leads to an acute failure,” he says.

In addition, Horohov and colleagues, including UK’s Allen Page, DVM, PhD, are looking at whether inflammatory changes that occur in racehorses and sport horses indicate a pathologic (causing disease or damage) condition is brewing.

As bones and muscles experience stress during exercise, they undergo microdamage as part of their normal adaptive process. Ideally, this process helps strengthen both bone and muscle. However, if the horse is overtrained or does not adapt well to training, the result is inflammation and potential injury. Horohov and Page have hypothesized that bloodwork should reveal certain inflammatory marker patterns that indicate systemic inflammation caused by early microlesions.

“Some microlesion formation is likely part of the normal remodeling effort,” Horohov says. “It is when the …