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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
Animals 2021, 11(2), 463;
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.
Conflicting research and anecdotal evidence have created disagreement among equestrians as to whether two-year-old horses should be trained and raced. The objective of this literature review is to evaluate epidemiological studies, as well as physiological data on equine bone, articular cartilage, and tendons to better determine the impact of training and racing two-year-old horses. The evaluation of numerous studies on the topic provides evidence that a horse which is trained or raced as a two-year-old has a lower risk of injury and better adapted tissues for the rigors of racing. Unfortunately, the current prolific use of pain-mitigating substances in the racing industry does place horses, including young cohorts, at greater risk of injury, and should be used with caution. View Full-Text
Keywords: equine; bone; cartilage; tendon; race; exercise; growth; career; injury; development equine; bone; cartilage; tendon; race; exercise; growth; career; injury; development
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MDPI and ACS Style

Logan, A.A.; Nielsen, B.D. Training Young Horses: The Science behind the Benefits. Animals 2021, 11, 463.

AMA Style

Logan AA, Nielsen BD. Training Young Horses: The Science behind the Benefits. Animals. 2021; 11(2):463.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Logan, Alyssa A., and Brian D. Nielsen. 2021. "Training Young Horses: The Science behind the Benefits" Animals 11, no. 2: 463.

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