Tag Archives: racing

How Nature Designed Horses

Nature designed horses to be giant lawnmowers, but domestication and generations of selective breeding have turned them into high-performance athletes. And just like human athletes, horses experience muscle pains and aches that can diminish performance and lead to long-term damage.

Horses pay the price in injury and pain for the sports that we put them in. For many horse owners, equine massage therapy has become an important feature of the care they provide for their animals. Racehorses, polo ponies, dressage horses, three day eventers, show jumpers, and endurance horses can all prevent injuries and prolong their competitive careers with equine massage.

For instance if your horse has back or hind quarter soreness or is prone to “tying up” in these areas, then, to ease the discomfort the horse will place extra stress on the fore legs which in-turn places further stress on the tendons, which on occasions can lead to a bow.

This can also work in the reverse, say a horse has an existing tendon or foreleg problem; then the extra strain will be placed on the back and hind quarters, leading to strain or muscle problems.

Most people treat the symptoms after the injury has occurred, but what if the body could be balanced through stress point therapy and myofascial release? Many lamenesses and injuries can be avoided by maintaining proper nutrition, fitness, and balanced posture. I see it every day in my clients: horses that struggled to pass vet inspections, struggled to keep weight on, or struggled to perform certain movements rise above all those struggles once tight muscles have been released and nutritional imbalances are corrected.

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For instance if your horse has a back or hind quarter strain or is prone to “tying up” in these areas, then, to ease the discomfort the horse will place extra stress on the fore legs which in-turn places further stress on the tendons, which on occasions can lead to a bow.

This can also work in the reverse, say a horse has an existing tendon or foreleg problem, then the extra stain will be placed on the back and hind quarters, leading to strain or muscle problems.

For instance if your horse has a back or hind quarter strain or is prone to “tying up” in these areas, then, to ease the discomfort the horse will place extra stress on the fore legs which in-turn places further stress on the tendons, which on occasions can lead to a bow.

This can also work in the reverse, say a horse has an existing tendon or foreleg probl

 

em, then the extra stain will be placed ockand hind quarters, leading to strain or muscle problems.

High-Speed Exercise and Bone Response

This important article, by veterinarian Nancy Loving, is a must read! Originally posted in the Horse magazine.

Bone was once considered an inert material with its structure defined by genetics. But it turns out there’s a lot more at work, explained Larry Bramlage, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS: “Selective breeding dictates the initial skeleton, but adaptive training in response to exercise modifies it further.” He and other racehorse surgeons are striving to better understand the balance between tolerable and excessive damage—the adaptive kind that occurs naturally and the type that sidelines animals or ends their careers.

During his presentation at the 2013 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Nashville, Tenn., Bramlage, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, in Lexington, Ky., explained that bone is the only tissue capable of entirely reconstituting itself. With this capacity to change, he noted, there are several ways long bones strengthen themselves in response to training, including modeling and remodeling. Modeling is the process in which bone adds to itself, both inside and out, while remodeling is how existing bone tissue alters itself.

Bramlage started by describing the dynamic nature of bone activity on a cellular level. Two types of bone cells are involved in bone modeling and remodeling: osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteoblasts become trapped in the bone and become osteocytes, which are key to sensing biomechanical loads on the skeleton during exercise and directing bone tissue response accordingly. As they detect mechanical loads, they prompt additions to (formation) or reductions in (dissolution) bone mass, to achieve correct bone density for current athletic demands. Osteoclasts then tunnel through and cut canals into the bone, with osteoblasts following to make new bone. Continue reading

Choosing an Off the Track Thoroughbred

This is adapted from a book called The Lame Horse, by James Rooney:

“We race horses on hard tracks, increasing both concussion and fatigue. We are selecting for high speed horses as breeding stock. Some of these fast horses break down with popped knees during their 3 year old year, and are sent to stud duty “retired due to an unfortunate accident.” With certain lines of Thoroughbreds, the unfortunate accident was they they were born with improperly developed carpal bones. The great forces exerted at high rates of acceleration are going to be particularly deleterious to a joint that was not properly built to begin with. Some of the most successful stallions of recent times have thrown a number of foals with extremely malformed knees. The best breeding is not about speed and money. The best breeding is about the ability to stand up under training and racing. A two year old that wins half a million dollars, goes like the wind, and breaks down with popped knees as a 3 year old should be given awards and promptly castrated!”

Be sure to buy horses with strong, well developed knees from bloodlines with a minimum history of the problem. We should start a movement to encourage distance racing at moderate rates of speed rather than sprint racing.

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