Training Young Horses: The Science behind the Benefits
Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, 474 S. Shaw Ln, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sue M. McDonnell
Received: 18 January 2021 / Revised: 5 February 2021 / Accepted: 5 February 2021 / Published: 9 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Equids
Of common debate among equine professionals and enthusiasts alike, is whether entering race training at two years of age is detrimental or beneficial to the animal’s career and growth. This literature review evaluates epidemiological studies to elucidate that two-year-old horses are not at greater risk of injury compared to older horses. Horses which enter race training at two years of age are, in fact, found to have greater earnings and longer race careers. This review also tackles the impact that exercising an animal at two years of age or younger has on bone, articular cartilage, and tendons. Numerous studies on growing animals have found confinement to be detrimental to normal musculoskeletal growth. However, exercise of dynamic nature in moderate distances, such as that attained with pasture access or prescribed sprints, is beneficial to musculoskeletal development and may prevent injuries when entering race training. Based on scientific evidence, the research cited in this review supports the training and racing of two-year-old horses and advises caution in the use of medications such as corticosteroids.