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Animal Sentience: Where Are We and Where Are We Heading?
Animals 2012, 2(4), 640-655; doi:10.3390/ani2040640

Proactive Management of the Equine Athlete

* ,
Massey Equine, IVABS, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 October 2012 / Revised: 17 December 2012 / Accepted: 18 December 2012 / Published: 19 December 2012
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Simple Summary: The athletic career of a horse is relatively short. Career length can be positively influenced by the trainer and the age at which the horse starts competition. There are opportunities for a team approach of health professionals and changes in management to improve functional/competition life. The ability to improve the tolerance of the tissue to exercise load via the introduction of early exercise, which reflects the horse’s evolutionary cursorial lifestyle, could provide a proactive mechanism to attenuate injury risk.


Across many equestrian disciplines the median competition career of a horse is relatively short. One of the major reasons for short career length is musculoskeletal injury and a consistent variable is the trainer effect. There are significant opportunities within equestrian sport for a holistic approach to horse health to attenuate musculoskeletal injury. Proactive integration of care by health professionals could provide a mechanism to attenuate injury risk and the trainer effect. However, the limited data available on current exercise regimens for sport horses restricts interpretation of how management and exercise volume could be modified to reduce injury risk. Early exercise in the juvenile horse (i.e., pre weaning) has a positive effect on stimulating the musculoskeletal system and primes the horse for an athletic career. The early introduction to sport competition has also been identified to have a positive effect on career length. These data indicate that management systems reflecting the cursorial evolution of the horse may aid in attenuating loss from sport due to musculoskeletal injury.
Keywords: horse; lameness; DOHAD; rehabilitation; exercise; workload; management; racing; show jumping; dressage horse; lameness; DOHAD; rehabilitation; exercise; workload; management; racing; show jumping; dressage
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Rogers, C.W.; Bolwell, C.F.; Gee, E.K. Proactive Management of the Equine Athlete. Animals 2012, 2, 640-655.

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