Saturday, January 07, 2012

Inside the Thoroughbred Racehorse: Just Watch This!

Of course you have never taken the Thoroughbred athlete for granted, but after watching this 48-minute documentary, you'll be in even more awe of the complex biomechanics and physiology of the running Thoroughbred. Anyone who's squeamish in a dissection might want to skip over this, but you'll miss a lot!

This documentary, part of the multiple award-winning Inside Nature's Giants series broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 over the past three years, is hosted by veterinarian Mark Evans. Hoofcare + Lameness readers may recognize contributors Renate Weller and Alan Wilson, two leading veterinary researchers at the Royal Veterinary College in England.

Farrier Billy McQueen has a few minutes on screen.

There are several sections of the documentary that focus on the racehorse foot. This clip (below) details the function of the flexor tendons in moving the limb and hoof forward, not the anatomy of the foot itself, but it has some great animation and a startling demonstration by Alan Wilson and a scalpel.

You might not agree with the way that everything is presented on this video. Students of equine evolution may be surprised at the way presenter Richard Dawkins (6:06 in the full video) describes the progression of the hoof from multi- to single-toed (the way that everyone was taught in Pony Club). It must be easier to explain it to a television audience as if the horse just kept dropping toes to run more efficiently. Weightbearing theories that include the horse employing more than just the hoof wall are not mentioned, either. But the producers had the task of explaining a running horse in 48 minutes to a universal audience, so this is pretty general information in some parts.

You'll have to watch the entire documentary to see all the information on the foot. But it's all connected. Don't miss a minute of this documentary, even if you're sure you know it all. You just might see it presented in a new way.

Are you a professional who works with horses--a farrier, trimmer, veterinarian, vet tech, gait analyst, or bodyworker? Or an educator? This video is highly recommended to explain to anyone who doesn't "get it", why you do what you do: because the athletic horse is simply the most amazing creature on earth.

Note: the video team made a stop at the breeding barn at Coolmore Stud in Ireland, so if you are sensitive to what goes on there, or have children or students who might be, you might want to skip over that part.

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