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Preventing Racehorse Injuries in Ontario - Your Participation is ImportantJuly 2004

Each year many owners and trainers are devastated when a horse is injured. At best, an injury may take a few weeks to heal or at worst, may be career ending or even cause death.

Injuries affecting musculoskeletal structures such as bowed tendons, "bucked" shins or fractures are the number-one cause of wastage in the racing industry and as a result costing the industry thousands of dollars each year. Led by Drs. Cruz and Hurtig, a team of investigators at the Ontario Veterinary College have received funds from the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association to study the incidence of catastrophic racing injuries. As part of this study, researchers are conducting confidential surveys involving Thoroughbred and Standardbred trainers to identify potential risk factors leading to injury.

This is the first study of its kind to be conducted in Ontario. However similar work has been conducted in other racing jurisdictions world-wide including California, Japan and England.

"The purpose of this study is to identify regional injury risk factors that affect horses in Ontario and to use this knowledge to try and design prevention strategies to mitigate the economic loss within the industry" says Cruz.

Cruz and Hurtig hope they will have the cooperation of owners and trainers when approached to answer specific questions related to this study.

"The information gathered will be treated absolutely confidentially as we are very aware of the trust that owners and trainers are placing in us. We, as researchers, are here to help everybody by analyzing the data collected" says Cruz.

At the same time, other studies are being conducted to help understand the physiological mechanisms that contribute to the horse’s response to exercise.

"By understanding how the bones react to high-intensity exercise we hope to be able to make certain training recommendations to minimize the chances of a catastrophic injury and maximize the performance of the horse" says Cruz.
For additional information on these topics and research projects please contact Dr. Cruz at