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Aims

There has been limited information regarding musculoskeletal injury in Arabian racehorses. This study aims to document the distribution of musculoskeletal injuries and their prevalence in a population of Arabians in flat training in one Newmarket yard.

Methods

A retrospective analysis of individual veterinary records for all horses in training in one Arabian racing yard during the period from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2012 was performed. Information including injury type, sex, age and limb affected were recorded. Injury categories included in the study were: 1) fractures involving the carpus, tarsus, proximal sesamoid bones and metacarpophalangeal/metatarsophalangeal joints; 2) stress fractures (pelvis, tibia, scapula, humerus, radius, metacarpus, metatarsus); 3) suspensory ligament branch desmitis; 4) superficial digital flexor (SDFT) tendonitis. Injuries which occurred as a result of trauma and those which may be associated with variable clinical signs were excluded.

Results

In 144 horses, 42 individual injuries occurring in 34 horses were recorded. Overall prevalence of horses sustaining musculoskeletal injury was 23.6%. Eight horses sustained more than one injury and 3 horses suffered re-injury (same site, same limb). Fractures of the proximal phalanx (P1) were the most common injury type (25/42, 59.5%), followed by SDFT tendonitis (8/42, 19.0%) and suspensory ligament branch desmitis (3/42, 7.1%). Musculoskeletal injury was most common in 4-year-olds. Gender was not significantly associated with overall musculoskeletal injury.

Conclusions and practical significance

A better knowledge of the distribution and prevalence of musculoskeletal injury in racing Arabians may allow earlier intervention and focus veterinary diagnostic efforts for injury detection.

Acknowledgements

The author is grateful for the co-operation of Mrs. G. Duffield and Shadwell Estate Management, Newmarket, UK.

Ethical animal research

This study, using client-owned animals, involves informed client consent. Sources of funding: None. Competing interests: None.