Racehorse Health and Safety Studies ContinueBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 6, 2012

Collection of information for the Equine Injury Database was started over three years ago. Although many records have been collected, this process needs to continue for several more years before conclusions can be drawn. The Jockey Club maintains the database, which now contains information on a million North American race starts and about 30,000 reports of injuries. The rate of catastrophic equine injuries is approximately two per 1,000 race starts.

Another program looking at the safety of racehorses is the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance.

Veterinarians attending the recent University of Arizona Symposium on Racing and Gaming learned that research projects are being carried out to identify and change some existing problems in training and racing procedures that could lead to injuries. Because horses spend more hours in training than they do in racing, more injuries occur during training sessions than during a race.

Televised breakdowns of high-profile horses bring public criticism to the sport of racing, but they also strengthen the push by industry professionals to cooperate with data collection and make the changes recommended by researchers. Presenters at the symposium pointed out that a number of advances in safety have been made in the last six years, and publicizing these improvements is important for modifying public perception.