Researches Analyze How Injured Race Horses Can Be Saved from Euthanasia
Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers took to studying the bones of some thoroughbreds that were euthanized due to irreparable bone injury as a result of high speed racing.
Based on the researchers’ analysis, the life-ending occurrences for injured racehorses take place when the animals fracture their third metacarpal, or what is commonly known as the cannon bone. That being the case, JH researchers found that by including the adaption of the said bones to extreme racing conditions as part of a thoroughbred’s training, the animals can better endure the serious injuries, and be able to recover from the fracture instead of being euthanized.
Findings Can Help Protect and Keep Safe Thoroughbreds During Race Events
This study comes amidst the protests raised by animal welfare activists upon learning of the horseracing industry’s practice of mercy-killing thoroughbreds that have been seriously injured during training or during racing accidents. The protest actions are calling for the abolition of horse racing, which were spurred by the more than thirty race horses that were euthanized in Santa Anita Park since December 2019.
Since January 2020, animal rights protesters have positioned themselves at the race park’s entrance carrying placards imprinted with messages that say “Death Track” and “Horses Die Here.” However, according to the California Horse Racing Board, the number of horse deaths this season had actually gone down, when compared to the figures reported in 2018 and 2017, which were 37 and 54, respectively.
Nevertheless, the owners of Santa Anita Park entered into an agreement with race horse owners, committing to take necessary steps and making changes to ensure the safety and protection of the racehorses and riders.
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Recommends Scientifically Backed Methods of intervention During Training
According to the analysis conducted by the Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers, about 70% of the irreparable damage occur in the third metacarpal bone , located between the horse’s knee and the area at the top of the hoof.
Deanna Goldstein, a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution said that one way to help keep the horses from breaking their legs that way is to have a scientifically backed method of intervention that can predict and prevent such injuries from happening. The intervention can be adapted as part of the thoroughbreds’ management and training, in order to better protect the animals from stress-related accidents on the race track
Ms. Goldstein suggests training that is similar to how humans train to strengthen their bones for weightlifting activities. She explained that new bone growth in thoroughbred and other breeds can be trained to respond to mechanical stress in order to help develop bones that can withstand fracturing. That way, horses running at high speed, especially around tighter turns, in order to help develop bones that can resisi breakdowns.