• horse;
  • fracture;
  • epidemiology;
  • training


Reasons for performing study: Musculoskeletal injury is the major cause of days lost from training and wastage in Thoroughbred racehorses. Little scientific information is available on the majority of injuries occurring in training.

Objectives: To estimate the incidence of fractures in British racehorses in training and describe the occurrence of different fracture types and bones involved.

Methods: Thirteen UK racehorse trainers participated in a prospective study, providing data on horses in their care for 2 years. Details on horses, their daily exercise and fracture occurrence were recorded.

Results: A total of 1178 horses provided 12,893 months at risk. Nontraumatic fracture incidence was 1.15/100 horse months (95% CI = 0.98, 1.35) and 78% of fractures occurred during training. A wide variety of fracture types and bones were involved, although at least 57% were stress fractures. Pelvic and tibial stress injuries accounted for 28% of fractures diagnosed.

Conclusions: It is important to study injuries in training as well as in racing. The number of stress fractures suggests that training regimes for young Thoroughbreds could often be improved to create a more robust skeleton, able to withstand injury.

Potential relevance: Studying injuries in racehorses in training can provide a scientific basis for the design of safer training regimes.;