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Doctoral thesis2012Open access

Yard differences in training, management and orthopedic injury in showjumping, riding school, and thoroughbred race horses

Lönnell, Cecilia


Musculoskeletal injuries are a major cause of wastage in Thoroughbred racing and equestrian sport. Epidemiological studies in racehorses have demonstrated that risk of injury vary between trainers and with differences in training regimens, but few havestudied such between-yard differences in riding horses. The aim of the thesis was to quantify and compare training regimes, management and measures of injury in racehorses, riding school horses and showjumping horses at herd level, and measure the effect of different training regimens on skeletal adaptation in two-year-old racehorses with bone biomarkers. Analysing data from an animal insurance database, rates of locomotor problems varied substantially among 136 riding schools. A field study of 19 riding schools with high or low utilization of insurance (HUIO/LUIO) for orthopedic injuries demonstrated differences in management strategies and influence on injury rate and longevity. Experienced managers, highly qualified chief instructors and gradual introduction to riding school work for new horses protected against orthopedic injury. Showjumping and racehorse training was analysed longitudinally. Ten racehorse trainers in the UK with 194 horses participated. The total number of training days (DAR) was 43,373. Data analysed in the showjumping study were delivered by 31 riders with 263 horses, in four European countries (39,262 DAR). Both showjumping riders and racehorse trainers varied in volume and components of daily training. The mean daily training in the showjumping yards was between 19 and 49 min per DAR. The mean percentages of days lost to training were 23 and 5 in the racehorses and showjumpers respectively. In Thoroughbred racehorses bone biomarker patterns varied between yards, indicating differences in skeletal response. Conclusions from the thesis support previous results showing orthopedic injury to be a main reason for wastage in horses, and that risk of injury, training regimens and management varies between yards. As analysis of training factors and injury is a new field of study in riding horses, further studies are required to expand the understandingof the multifactorial causes of orthopedic conditions. However, based on results from the thesis and other studies, certain aspects with the potential to influence soundness should be considered by trainers, riders and coaches. This includes a gradual progression of training to allow adaptation to increased loads, training components that improve fitness and prepare for the load required in competition and races, andvariation, both of training activities and training load, i.e. periodization.


equine; epidemiology; injury; insurance; orthopedic; ridingschool; showjumping; Thoroughbred; training; warmblood

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2012, number: 2012:27ISBN: 978-91-576-7663-4
Publisher: Institutionen för kliniska vetenskaper, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

    Associated SLU-program

    Future Animal Health and Welfare (until Jan 2017)

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Clinical Science

    Permanent link to this page (URI)