It’s been a fascinating week for racehorse-related geekery, friends, and the neat thing about research into racehorses is that much of it is translatable to our beloved sport of eventing. This week we’ve gathered up some interesting information that all centers around racehorses: from using them as a model for a human and horse disease, to new research about genetics and breakdowns, plus a great synopsis of injury prognoses for Thoroughbreds coming off the track.
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This Week in Horse Health News …
Racehorses are being used to study atrial fibrillation by creating a 3D map of the heart –video above! Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to heart-related complications such as blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. It’s a condition that can develop in both horses and humans with a long history of athletic training as scar tissue accumulates on the heart. Collaborating researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Adelaide are using ultrasounds and echocardiograms while trotting horses exercise on a treadmill to create 3D maps of their hearts. This cardiac mapping will provide insights for both clinical management of both human and equine patients with the condition. Results will be presented at a conference later this year and two publications from these data are excepted to be released within the next year as well. [HorseTalk]
So there’s this thing called the Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome (WFFS) mutation and it’s not a genetic risk factor for catastrophic breakdown in Thoroughbred racehorses according to a recently published study from researchers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. WFFS is a fatal genetic condition that is characterized by abnormally thin or fragile connective tissue. The mutation is recessive and only presents at a very low frequency in the breed. The UC Davis researchers showed that carrying a copy of the mutation did not increase the risk of catastrophic breakdown. Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome is named as such because it was first studied in Warmblood horses, though it is also present in Thoroughbreds and crosses. [UC Davis]
When purchasing an off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB), it’s important to understand their medical history and how it will affect their limitations in a second career. Dr. Janik Gasiorowski of Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in New Jersey answered questions in a recent Chronicle of the Horse article about the prognosis of some racing injuries and suitability to go on to another athletic career. From fractures, to soft tissue injuries, to feet — this is a must-read for anyone thinking of getting involved with OTTBs. Some injuries may not be as hopeless as you might think! [Chronicle of the Horse]