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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • lameness;
  • metabolic;
  • long distance;
  • race

Summary

Reasons for performing study: Endurance is the fastest growing Féderation Équestre International (FEI) discipline and the large number of eliminations on veterinary grounds needs to be investigated.

Objectives: To document elimination rates and explore potential risk factors for elimination due to lameness or metabolic reasons in 9 countries representing 5 continents.

Methods: Data for rides of ≥100 km (‘elite endurance rides’) in Australia, France, Italy, South Africa, Spain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), UK, Uruguay and USA were collected from the FEI website. Data were collected for all started horses on the country, number of horses in the class, ride distance, class (e.g. young rider class) and the average speed of the winning horse. Retirements, eliminations for lameness, metabolic and other reasons were recorded. Uni- and multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess the effect of country, number of horses in the class, ride distance and young rider class on 2 outcomes (elimination for lameness and metabolic reasons).

Results: Data for 157 classes at 91 events were analysed. The UAE had the highest number of entries (1497), followed by France (1029) and Spain (408). Of 4326 started horses, 46.0% finished the ride. Lameness was the most common cause of elimination in all countries followed by metabolic reasons (69.2 and 23.5% of all eliminations, and 31.8 and 10.8% of all started horses, respectively). Eight percent of horses were retired by the rider, having passed the veterinary examination. In multivariable analysis, the risk of elimination for lameness was associated with the country in which the ride was held, and the risk significantly increased (OR = 1.60) for horses competing in rides with ≥80 entries. The risk of elimination for metabolic reasons was also significantly associated with the country in which the ride was held and the risk significantly increased (OR = 2.17) for horses competing in rides with ≥100 entries in the multivariable analysis.

Conclusions and potential relevance: Elimination rates vary between countries, with lameness being the most common reason for elimination globally. Analysis of retrospective data showed country and number of started horses to be risk factors for elimination due to lameness and for elimination due to metabolic disorders. A prospective study is needed to assess the effects of environmental conditions, individual horse speed and other variables on the risk of specific causes of elimination.