I fell down the rabbit hole looking at early exercise studies with relation to bone strength in race horses.
I found a study talking about how a third of race horses in a study had osteoarthritis by 3yo. I’m assuming that is because of early intense exercise before they are done growing? Can any of my followers point to a different equestrian sport that usually starts their horses later that I can search google scholar for similar studies?
Last time I fell down that rabbit hole I found these two studies (and a bunch more but I didn’t save them/haven’t fully investigated these, either).
Other sports do start their horses later (Warmblood hunters are usually older in the green divisions, from my experience). From a scholarly study perspective, however, the information is scarce – most of the key financial backing for the studies comes from the racing industry. The eventing world would also be really interesting to evaluate – compare the longevity of off the track Thoroughbreds versus non-raced Thoroughbreds in competing in eventing.
Thank you for those articles!
I didn’t know that horses had some growth plates closed before birth, though it makes total sense thinking about it. The joint they measured in the bone strength study had the two nearest growth plates closed at birth in horses which def makes me re-evaluate. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear like they looked at the radiohumeral joint where the growth plates weren’t closed for the duration of the study (appears to close at 20 – 24 months and the study ended at 18months). I couldn’t find any other studies that looked at that – most seem to focus on the metacarpophalangeal joint or metacarpus bone.
I tried to look up any eventing studies, but yeah they are pretty non-existent. Ugh. Where is the crowdfunding research platform (huh. okay. Apparently experiment.com. so if any equestrian/canine sports scientists want to jump on this LMK)
Back to the original – I did find a study that looked at the surface of cartilage in exercised young horses and it found deeper grooves in than in non-exercised and it concluded that this could lead to early degeneration/osteoarthritis. So sort of answer within the racing horse research.
I’ve got another appointment with my physio vet so depending on how busy it is, i might geek out with her about this or see if they can pull the full studies (or maybe ask my mom, though I’m not certain it is on any place that she has a subscription for. She is usually human medical only)