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Animals 2018, 8(12), 221;

Track Surfaces Used for Ridden Workouts and Alternatives to Ridden Exercise for Thoroughbred Horses in Race Training

U-Vet Equine Centre, Melbourne Veterinary School, University of Melbourne, 250 Princes Hwy, Werribee VIC 3030, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 October 2018 / Revised: 31 October 2018 / Accepted: 22 November 2018 / Published: 26 November 2018
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Simple Summary

Musculoskeletal injury rates for Thoroughbred racehorses in training and racing differ between racing jurisdictions. The aetiology of these injuries is multifactorial, but one potentially important and modifiable risk factor is the track surface on which horses train. However, the extent to which different track surfaces are used by trainers has not been clearly established. Similarly, the extent of use of alternatives to ridden exercise between different jurisdictions is unknown. Trainers in Victoria, Australia, use a combination of turf, sand, synthetic and dirt training track surfaces. Sand or synthetic surfaces were most commonly used for slow workouts and turf or synthetic tracks for fast workouts. A high proportion of trainers raced horses on surfaces that were not regularly used for training, and 89% of trainers used alternative exercise methods in addition to overground ridden workouts. Determining types of surfaces and alternatives to ridden exercise used during training, and to what extent they are used, is the first step in understanding their association with the risk of injury. The future aim is mitigating injury risk by recommending safer track surfaces.


Little is known about the types of surfaces used during training of Thoroughbred racehorses or methods of exercise used in addition to ridden track-work. Our aims were to (1) describe the types of surfaces used in the training of Thoroughbred racehorses and to (2) identify alternative approaches used to exercise horses in addition to, or in place of, ridden overground track-work. Information regarding surface and alternative exercise methods was collected as part of an in-person survey of training practices of 66 registered Thoroughbred trainers in Victoria, Australia. Sand and synthetic surfaces were used by 97% and 36% of trainers respectively for slow-workouts, with galloping on turf training tracks used in training regimens by 82% and synthetic by 58% of trainers. Of those trainers utilising turf tracks, only 34% of gallop training was completed on turf despite turf being the predominant racing surface. Almost 90% of trainers used alternatives to ridden exercise. There is substantial variation in training surface used and alternative types of exercise undertaken by Victorian trainers. Future research should focus on how such practices relate to injury risk, particularly as it relates to the importance of musculoskeletal adaptation to specific race-day surfaces. View Full-Text
Keywords: Thoroughbred; racehorse; equine; training; exercise; surface; track Thoroughbred; racehorse; equine; training; exercise; surface; track
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Morrice-West, A.V.; Hitchens, P.L.; Walmsley, E.A.; Whitton, R.C. Track Surfaces Used for Ridden Workouts and Alternatives to Ridden Exercise for Thoroughbred Horses in Race Training. Animals 2018, 8, 221.

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