Equine health, medical records plan headline racehorse safety summit


Lexington, Ky.- A recently concluded racehorse summit resulted in the drafting of action plans targeting six areas to improve conditions in the Thoroughbred industry.

LEXINGTON, KY.— A recently concluded racehorse summit resulted in the drafting of action plans targeting six areas to improve conditions in the Thoroughbred industry.

The Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit's sponsor, the Grayson-Jockey Club, reports that a cross-section of prominent participants from the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry attended the Oct. 16-17 meeting. The result? Action plans were drafted on education and licensing, racing conditions, research, health and medical records, racing surfaces/shoeing/hoof care, and breeding practices.

Among the recommendations from the two-day summit were:

  • Research, develop and publish additional statistics that will provide insight into the durability and longevity of progeny of breeding stock.

  • Make efforts to have scientific research more widely distributed among industry stakeholders.

  • Examine the use or ban of certain horseshoes, such as toe-grabs, in the wake of presentations and research by Dr. Sue Stover and other participants.

  • Develop a uniform on-track injury reporting system for horses and humans.

  • Provide continuing education for all horsemen, exercise riders and farriers, and make initiatives more available throughout the country, like the Groom Elite Program.

The summit was coordinated and underwritten by Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club, and hosted by Keeneland Association.

Goals of the summit were to identify critical issues that affect horse health and/or shorten the career of racehorses and to develop action plans to address each issue, Grayson-Jockey Club reports.

"I think the turnout and the interest in this summit proves that there is widespread concern among industry stakeholders about the welfare and safety of the racehorse," says Ed Bowen, president of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. "The summit was certainly successful in identifying issues and devising action plans, and we're grateful to all the participants who were here."

Nick Nicholson, president and chief executive officer of Keeneland, adds, "This summit was a great step forward. Now that we have identified issues and possible solutions, we need to roll up our sleeves and do the work."

Panelists discussed the relationships of breeding, training, veterinary practice, racetrack surfaces and track management and how they affect longevity of racing careers and racehorse soundness.

Closed discussions in breakout groups, facilitated by a team of staff members from The Jockey Club, were conducted as well.

The participants were separated into six groups. Each group was asked to list at least three critical issues associated with the decline in the racing careers of Thoroughbred horses over the last 50 years, in terms of fewer years raced and fewer starts per year. Action plans were subsequently created.

While injuries are a key determinant to shorter careers, participants were asked to look at all factors, such as track surfaces, training and breeding practices, economics of racing versus breeding and medication.

Before breaking off into strategic planning sessions, attendees heard brief presentations from the creation of a standardized on-track injury reporting system from Drs. Karin Opacich and Mary Scollay, and farrier Mitch Taylor.

A final report from the summit was slated for distribution to participants at the end of October.

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