Objective To describe the incidence rate of musculoskeletal (MS) injuries and investigate the factors that influence recovery from MS injury in young Thoroughbred horses in Australia.
Methods Training and injury data were collected at fortnightly intervals from 14 trainers in New South Wales. Incidence rates were calculated for initial injuries stratified by age-class and sex. Survival analysis methods were used to investigate the time to recovery after the first MS injury (measured as a start in a race or barrier trial).
Results For the 248 racehorses enrolled, there were 428 injuries recorded; 2-year-olds were 2.99-fold more likely than 3-year-olds to sustain an MS injury. The cumulative percentage of horses that had recovered within 6 months was 55%. The time to recovery was longest in horses whose fast gallop speed prior to injury was < 890 m/min.
Conclusion This study supports the finding that shin soreness is the most common MS injury in young Australian Thoroughbreds. There was an increased rate of MS injury in 2-year-olds compared with 3-year-olds. However, it was impossible to determine if the increased risk in 2-year-olds was related to age, the start of training or a combination of both. The study also found that horses performing at higher exercise speeds prior to injury were more likely to recover. There was a significant effect of trainer, suggesting that other factors related to trainer may influence the time to the recovery. Additional research is required to understand the determinants of time to recovery.