Horse racing is a long-time favorite pastime, drawing people to the track since 700 BC. It continues to entertain audiences today, with numerous dirt or turf races held each day and nearly 300 tracks operating around the world. While the sport has retained many of its traditions, technological advances have helped make it safer for horses and jockeys. Those advances include thermal imaging cameras to help prevent overheating, MRI scanners that can detect a host of minor and major health conditions, and 3D printing capabilities that can produce casts, splints, or prosthetics.
The world’s best race horses are thoroughbreds, whose breeding and training have developed them to run fast over short distances. Thoroughbreds have sensitive, delicate ankles, which can be injured by unnatural gaits or jarring contact with uneven ground. Those injuries can lead to pulled suspensory ligaments, which strain the ligament that supports the distal limb. The condition, which is commonly known as a pulled tendon, results in pain and weakness, and it can be fatal for the horse if not treated promptly and correctly.
A pulled tendon is an injury that can be prevented by avoiding running or working the horse over a slick surface, especially one with an uneven surface. It is also recommended to avoid sudden changes in terrain and to allow the horse time to rest after a workout or race. The use of splints and taping the wound to support the tendon can reduce the risk of infection.
The splints and tapes are important to the horse’s recovery, but they cannot fully heal the wound on their own. Therefore, the veterinarian needs to monitor the progress of the wound and may need to re-tape the horse. Injuries to the lower legs are common in horse racing. The horse’s lower leg takes a pounding when it runs on a dirt track, and the pressure can put stress on the ligaments and tendons in the leg. The horse’s feet must be protected with shoes to minimize the damage.
The sport has been plagued by accusations of doping and other controversies, but the integrity of the game has improved in recent years. Some of these improvements have come from the use of high-tech instruments that can detect banned substances, as well as more careful training and breeding. Despite these advancements, horse racing has never been a completely clean sport. However, a zero-tolerance drug policy, the use of turf (grass) tracks only, a ban on whipping, and competitive racing for horses only after their third birthdays would significantly improve the welfare of these majestic animals. Support PETA’s efforts to ensure that these changes are made. In this way, you can help protect the future of horse racing. Thanks for your support!