by Fran Jurga | 28 August 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog
Data on racing breakdowns compiled by the University of California at Davis tracks the incidence of injuries, the seasonality of injuries and which limb is affected, among many other data points recorded. A publication of recent statistics presented to the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) reveals a disturbing prevalence of hind limb injuries that led to the death of racehorses last year.
While the report is not available at present, the Los Angeles Times today reported that the study presented to the CHRB yesterday reveals that 19 horses died on California tracks from hind limb injuries in 2008, and that those injuries were split pretty evenly between left and right hinds. Only one horse died from a hind limb injury on a dirt track.
Breakdowns on the front limbs were somewhat more comparable between dirt and artificial tracks, but the artificial breakdowns still exceeded the dirt tracks: 74 horses broke down in front on artificial tracks while 59 broke down in front on dirt tracks.
Some people feel that this is an invalid comparison, and that trainers will often work a horse on a synthetic track that they would not work on a dirt track.
UC Davis examined 351 cadavers of breakdowns in its search for new insights into why racehorses are so susceptible to fatal injuries.
California has a 4 mm limit on toe grabs on front shoes and allows horses to run barefoot.
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