Industry Collaboration Theme of Welfare and Safety Summit
The seventh Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit concluded Tuesday afternoon at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion in Lexington, Ky.
The event was emceed by Donna Barton Brothers, former jockey and current NBC racing analyst who serves on the advisory board for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
“As with so many past editions, this summit clearly demonstrated the tremendous welfare- and safety-related enhancements that are possible when we have such widespread industry collaboration,” said Edward L. Bowen, president of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. “The increasing use of sophisticated data and new technology are certainly helping us move forward, and we are grateful to all those who made presentations, attended or watched our summit today.”
The summit covered topics ranging from racing surfaces and rider safety to equine injuries, nutrition, biosecurity, and respiratory health for horses. Additional reports included biomarker research, compounded medications, nutraceuticals, lameness, the importance of the physical inspection, and use of the riding crop.
The summit drew approximately 200 observers as well as an international audience who watched a live video stream.
Bill Casner, a Thoroughbred owner and breeder, covered respiratory and airway health and talked about steps he has taken to improve environmental conditions for his horses.
Dr. Mick Peterson, executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, discussed track surface design and its relationship to the Equine Injury Database.
“Our goal is to make dirt surfaces consistently safe and reduce the risk to horses and riders,” he said. ”We now have a Management Quality System that includes track design data, track inspection data, and track maintenance data. And we can make racing safer when we study the Equine Injury Database…”
Sue Finley, senior vice president and co-publisher of Thoroughbred Daily News, moderated a panel of retired jockeys including Gunnar Lindberg, now a Canadian racing official, and Hall of Famers Chris McCarron and Ramon Dominguez who discussed regulations involving the use of the riding crop.
“The whip is important for safety and can help you guide a horse around a turn,” said McCarron. “It’s a very useful tool and has prevented a lot of accidents and incidents when used properly.”
Dr. Tim Parkin, an epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine, shared some insights regarding the dramatic drop in fatal injuries in 2015 compared to previous years:
Among his findings were that racing horses at a young age reduces the chance of fatal injury.
“We now have seven full years of data in the Equine Injury Database [2009 to 2015] and the data is now driving our ability to have an impact on risk factors and fatalities.”