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.