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View Full Version : Career ending injuries related to living/training conditions? *Update*



Twentymetercircle
Jan. 19, 2010, 05:51 PM
I didn't know how to best title this thread but I am seeking comments and opinions on what people consider a high rate of injuries in eventing horses.

There is a small eventing barn in my area (approx 12 horses in training) and in the past year, four of the 12 horses had to be retired/rehomed due to career ending injuries like ligament tears. The usual regimen is the horses get ridden/worked 5-6 days a week and the rest of the time they are just standing around in a small covered paddock area. Small being room to walk a bit but not really trot. The horses get out once a day and usually do not get out all on days off. There is no turn out.

Three of the injured horses were running prelim and the other was novice and about to move up. 2 were warmbloods and 2 were TBs. They were competing maybe 4-5 times a year.

I realize that eventing can be hard on horses, but is losing 4 out of 12 horses to injuries unusual or is it "normal" for an eventing barn to lose a certain % of horses every year? I'm also wondering if more turnout would be better for the horses or if turnout even plays a part in keeping a horse stronger or more sound. In other words, could the way the horses are living/training play a role in any of this? (Ridden hard for an hour then standing around for the rest of the day)

I'm not trying to stir things up, just really curious!

carrie_girl
Jan. 19, 2010, 06:12 PM
I would consider 4 out of 12 high too. I would also caution against blaming it on the turn out situation. Here is So Cal, the living arrangement you described is very typical. Turnout at all is scarce, and if you can find it it is very short (an hour or two) and extremely expensive. However, I don't think we have a higher incidence of "career ending injuries" than other parts of the country. Perhaps there is something else going on or maybe even just a run of extremely bad luck.

Phaxxton
Jan. 19, 2010, 06:22 PM
I'd look more to the footing than the turnout situation. I do NOT doubt the benefits of turnout and the dangers of too little turnout, but too many horses do just fine on limited turnout for me to jump to that conclusion first.

SevenDogs
Jan. 19, 2010, 06:27 PM
I'd look more to the footing than the turnout situation. I do NOT doubt the benefits of turnout and the dangers of too little turnout, but too many horses do just fine on limited turnout for me to jump to that conclusion first.

Agree. Poor footing, over-working (particularly jumping), and under-conditioning would be things that I would look at before lack of turn-out. Sounds like an extremely high injury rate -- enough that I would steer clear.

Janet
Jan. 19, 2010, 06:29 PM
I think it is most liklely due to insufficient LSD, rather than footing or turnout.

No, not THAT kind of LSD, even if you are in CA.

LSD = Long Slow Distance, done to build up bone, muscle, ligament and tendon BEFORE you start interval training for heart and lungs.

Blugal
Jan. 19, 2010, 06:29 PM
Although I totally believe in turn-out, I seem to have had the worst injuries occur to my horses during turn-out.

I think you are darned either way.

JER
Jan. 19, 2010, 06:41 PM
1. Do all these horses have the same shoer?

2. Are the soft tissue injuries chronic or acute? In other words, is the injury an 'accident' or due to a problem with the horse's soft tissue (like DSLD or 'cottage cheese' tearing)?

Horses can do just fine without turnout. It's not ideal but much of the world has limited space for horses and you make it work.

Poor exercise management is another issue.

Phaxxton
Jan. 19, 2010, 06:54 PM
Agree. Poor footing, over-working (particularly jumping), and under-conditioning would be things that I would look at before lack of turn-out. Sounds like an extremely high injury rate -- enough that I would steer clear.

Also agree that it could be a lack of fitness and proper conditioning. :yes:

lstevenson
Jan. 19, 2010, 09:46 PM
4 out of 12 is far too many major injuries.

Bad footing or improper conditioning (not enough long slow distance work) are most likely the causes.

Good footing is SO important. And nowadays riders seem to forget that you can't get a horse truly fit and strong by riding in the arena only.

hb
Jan. 20, 2010, 12:45 AM
1. Do all these horses have the same shoer?


This would be my first question.

flabbergasted
Jan. 20, 2010, 10:48 AM
I think this is far too high a rate of injury. We have approximately 70 horses in various stages of training - including several at I and A - and we RARELY have any with a career ending injury of any kind. Maybe 1 every couple of years if I think hard about it, possibly less.

I agree with those who consider proper conditioning, footing and farrier work to be keys to longevity.

However, I disagree that T/O is largely irrelevant if a program is a good one and would never in a million years keep a horse in the circumstances you described. Proper T/O (IMHO at least 2 acres per head) with varied terrain allows a horse to maintain his muscle and strengthen his soft tissue naturally - T/O is, in effect, a valuable compotent of a proper conditioning program.

Accidents do happen in T/O from time to time, but in our experience, far more often when horses do not have adequate space in the field. And I would wager that the rate of colic is higher in barns that have limited (or no) T/O.

sunhawk
Jan. 20, 2010, 01:20 PM
I would suspect insufficient LSD and look into the shoeing, too high a heel is a contributor to suspensory strain

Twentymetercircle
Jan. 20, 2010, 03:00 PM
1. Do all these horses have the same shoer?

Yes




2. Are the soft tissue injuries chronic or acute? In other words, is the injury an 'accident' or due to a problem with the horse's soft tissue (like DSLD or 'cottage cheese' tearing)?


I believe the injuries are acute.

Twentymetercircle
Jan. 20, 2010, 03:04 PM
4 out of 12 is far too many major injuries.

Bad footing or improper conditioning (not enough long slow distance work) are most likely the causes.

Good footing is SO important. And nowadays riders seem to forget that you can't get a horse truly fit and strong by riding in the arena only.

Thank you, this is a really good point. The horses are mainly worked in the arena with an occasional field trip to a local horse park.

The horses are boarded at a prestigious private University that has an equestrian team, but I'm thinking I will take another look at the footing in the arenas.

asterix
Jan. 20, 2010, 03:29 PM
Honestly, I think there is a problem if you are trying to run horses at Training and Prelim with almost no turnout AND no real time outside an arena.
How can you do the LSD work you need? How can the horses build soft tissue strength without working on terrain? How can they even do conditioning if they never get out of the arena?

Shoeing could totally be an issue but I frankly think it is irresponsible to try and run horses at anything beyond novice with no turnout and nothing but arena work, no matter what the footing is in there.

poltroon
Jan. 20, 2010, 06:23 PM
In Southern California, we were successful keeping horses fit and sound for prelim with limited turnout. The horses did get trail ridden for extra fitness, the novice horses casually, the prelim horses on a specific schedule.

But I would say that some combination of the footing and the shoer are the most likely. Fitness would probably not be an issue for the novice horse.

asterix
Jan. 20, 2010, 06:29 PM
poltroon, I know that in CA lots of horses have very limited turnout, and certainly many of them seem to be happily eventing at all levels -- but if they also NEVER get out of an arena? Yes, I think that's a problem at preliminary. I have a big warmblood who has run Prelim. No way, no how would he have gotten fit enough in an arena only.

Phaxxton
Jan. 20, 2010, 06:34 PM
Thank you, this is a really good point. The horses are mainly worked in the arena with an occasional field trip to a local horse park.

Sounds like a fitness issue to me, at especially for the prelim horses. I don't know how someone could run their horses prelim without very regular work on trail...

JER
Jan. 21, 2010, 12:38 AM
poltroon, I know that in CA lots of horses have very limited turnout, and certainly many of them seem to be happily eventing at all levels -- but if they also NEVER get out of an arena?

For the way-too-many years I lived in SoCal, the majority of eventers I knew rarely got out of an arena.

I rode quite regularly in the mountains but then I had trail access on my street. But even at some of the big eventing barns, there is no turnout and trot sets are done in the arena. Many riders never get out on trails because they have no access or are, um, scared. (Or their trainer has some rules about it. :eek: The most common version of this goes like "my trainer says my horse is too nice to go on the trail.")

I had one horse that needed to get out of his stall a lot so I'd walk him and turn him out in the early morning at the riding club area. OTOH, my TB mare never needed (or wanted) turnout. Even now, with acres of grass to move around on, she sneaks off to the barn to stand in her stall when she thinks I'm not looking.

I kept my horses fit by walking on the trails (the footing is rocks and ruts) and by trotting for 45 minutes 2x/week around the outside of our riding area. I'd usually ride one and pony the other. One of my geldings was doing Prelim at age 19; the other did the trotting regimen until he was 28. (They're now 26 and 31 and still sound.)

poltroon
Jan. 21, 2010, 12:31 PM
poltroon, I know that in CA lots of horses have very limited turnout, and certainly many of them seem to be happily eventing at all levels -- but if they also NEVER get out of an arena? Yes, I think that's a problem at preliminary. I have a big warmblood who has run Prelim. No way, no how would he have gotten fit enough in an arena only.

I am sure there are some who only do arena work. We always were in facilities that had trail access. I've ridden up and down the Arroyo Seco, through the hills of Little Tujunga Canyon, undeveloped hillside lots in Sunland, and in the sands of Hansen Dam. In each of these places, we managed to find hill work and stretches where it was reasonably safe to gallop without running down any pedestrians. ;) A friend and I had a standing date for Sundays and we'd go out for 2-3 hours, most of it walking, but with a variety of hills and trot sets as well.

blackwly
Jan. 21, 2010, 03:25 PM
Thank you, this is a really good point. The horses are mainly worked in the arena with an occasional field trip to a local horse park.

The horses are boarded at a prestigious private University that has an equestrian team, but I'm thinking I will take another look at the footing in the arenas.

Well, now I am thinking this has GOT to be the "prestigious private university" where I went to school 9 yrs ago. If so, they certainly had the same problem then. And I had the only ligament injury of my eventing career in my OTTB going prelim while I was there. I blamed lack of appropriate turnout/hack out spac for the problem myself...there was just not enough room to put them out, hack them out, etc etc to keep their legs in shape for running XC every few weeks. Ligament injuries were an EPIDEMIC!

I move back to Tennessee, went back to putting my horses outside 24-7, and never had the problem again.

Twentymetercircle
Jan. 22, 2010, 03:36 PM
Well, now I am thinking this has GOT to be the "prestigious private university" where I went to school 9 yrs ago. If so, they certainly had the same problem then. And I had the only ligament injury of my eventing career in my OTTB going prelim while I was there. . Ligament injuries were an EPIDEMIC!


Yikes! It's interesting to learn it's been an issue for a while. I'm glad to learn your horses are doing great now.

JER
Jan. 22, 2010, 04:02 PM
One more thing about CA. A contributing factor to soft-tissue injuries might be the lack of variety in footing.

Most of the year, footing is rock hard and even rocky. Then in the winter, you suddenly get a few rounds of serious mud, interspersed with a return to rock hard.

There isn't much opportunity to work your horse (or even turn them out) on varied footing, which is what is best for soft tissue. Going abruptly from hard to soft is going to be a problem for some horses, and there's not much you can do about it.

I know one BO who kept a section of her pasture as a mud hole so that horses would have a variety of footings on a daily basis. She did this for hoof health as well -- the hooves would get wet and dry out every day. Horses did very, very well under her care.

carrie_girl
Jan. 22, 2010, 05:56 PM
I think all the arena work is certainly a problem too. Even though my horses have never had turn out (here in So Cal) they were always trail ridden with hill work at least once a week, often more. My prelim horses did all their trot sets and interval training out on a big loop of fire roads. It is interesting also to hear about the varied footing hypothesis. Where I board while out on trail there are many types of footing-- most is decent but a bit on the hard side, perfectly fine to trot, canter or even gallop on, but we have several rocky hills, and access to the deep sandy riverbottom. I have never had a tendon or ligament problem in my 15+ years of owning horses (knock on wood!).

Twentymetercircle
Feb. 15, 2010, 01:37 PM
Ligament injuries were an EPIDEMIC!

This past week, two more horses came up lame. One with a tendon injury, the other with a ligament injury. The only arena that has been open has been their covered arena, so I'm guessing now that maybe poor footing in the arena is the culprit.

Yikes.