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Horse dies after Melbourne Cup race

Discussion in 'The Cave' started by Josh (Paleo Osteo), Nov 4, 2014.

  1. japanese, a plane trip, australian sun and water....wow
  2. Da-mo

    Da-mo Gold

    Anna likes this.
  3. Shijin13

    Shijin13 Guest

    No surprise that horses aren't subject to the effects of disconnection. As for the physical issues that Da-mo mentions some of this stems (at least within the thoroughbred racing industry) from the fact that breeders over the past 30 yrs have stopped breeding for confirmation, and instead are trying to breed for brilliance and speed at a young age.

    one of the dominant sires who's been very sought after is Unbridled. his confirmation is horrible and while he's had some successful offspring and grand offspring - his confirmation faults in the cannon bones, fetlocks and the shin bone show up quite regularly. His granddaughter Eight Bells is famous for suffering double condylar fractures during her gallop out after the Kentucky derby. when you breed bad confirmation there's an increased risk with training/riding/running a juvenile horse before its finished growing.

    another leading sire who also is notorious for throwing bad confirmation issues to offspring is Storm Cat. If you look at pedigrees of the elite Thoroughbreds in the US many of them have either Storm Cat or Unbridled in their line. In addition many of these horses will have Raise a Native on both sides of their pedigree so you're getting a lot of inbreeding.

    The european's seem to do a better job at breeding to confirmation, and stamina. and they're racers tend to be more durable, and have longer careers. I can't speak to the Aussies or Japanese.

    On of the other things that has directly impacted the health and fitness of racing horses are the training methods. Since the success of Wayne D Lucas moving from quarter horse racing to thoroughbred racing in the early 80's we've seen numerous trainers come up who are employing speed drills over conditioning drills. If I owned a racing thoroughbred there are only 5 trainers I'd even consider putting my horse into their care for training, and it wouldn't be Lucas, Baffert, Pletcher, Assumessen, or Blasie for sure.
    The European trainers bring their juveniles up slowly. and they rarely if ever do speed drills before 3. any training that's done is generally long gallops of 5-10 miles, every other day with walking in between along with paddock turn outs. Most US Trainers don't gallop their horses out side the track, nor do they gallop them for more than a mile. How can a horse of any age have the fitness and mental health to run a 1mile &1/4 or longer when they don't have the training back ground? they can't. its why 1 mile&1/4 races or longer are very rare in the US. Where as in Europe - races less than a 1mile are rare in Europe. Europe's grand race is the Arc de triumph which is 1mile &1/2 race.

    Add to the fact that in the US race day medications, such as lasix (which stop bleeding in the lungs of the horse) to continue to run, win, then head off to the breeding shed. Where 30 yrs ago if a horse bled when they ran, the weren't run again and they never made it to the breeding shed. you also have trainers like Rick Dutro and Assumessen who've been found to numb their horses using illegal meds to keep them from feeling pain when they're running. which increases chances for injury.

    Instead of breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best, the racing industry is looking to cheat mother nature. but they're loosing. Add in all the technology that now surrounds the barns and the fact most of these horses only contact with nature is the walk from the stall to the track. they're just as disconnected as 95% of the humans on this planet.

    I have a neighbor that has 2 horses. they spend ALL DAY out side and they have the choice of overnighting in their barn - but she doesn't make them stay in it if they don't want too. After dropping the kids off I drove past their paddock. both were out. her mare was lounging on the ground and the gelding was rolling around itching himself. she also doesn't put shoes on them. she just has the ferrier keep their hooves in good shape.

    Jacks wife can probably comment better on this, knowing her love of horses.
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  4. Da-mo

    Da-mo Gold

    Gretchen you'd probably like the article I linked above as well. Everyone in the racing industry should read it that's for sure. http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_2008/ranger_piece_2008_pdf1.pdf

    You'll see in there that the original thorobreds were bred to run AT LEAST 12 miles in a day in 3 x 4 mile heats and could run up to 20miles to establish a clear winner. Breeders knew you couldn't run a 2 or 3 year old that far or you'd kill him so they set up futurity races of shorter distances to attract investors - which became what racing is today. Only fully grown (5 and 6 years old) horses were capable of running the original races.

    Some facilities have the horses living 24/7 inside - they are stabled in multi-story buildings and taken down to train on an indoor track in an elevator. Further circadian mismatches occur with shuttle stallions - they are moved from one hemisphere to another to follow the breeding seasons and tricked into perpetual breeding with artificial light.

    I keep my horses 24/7 turnout and barefoot as well. They eat grass, get hay sometimes and a few supplements. They get NO GRAIN. Putting shoes on a horse eliminates hydrodynamic shock absorption and pedal bone suspension in the hoof . . . . as well as eliminating the mechanism whereby expansion and contraction of the hooves helps pump the blood around the horse. The racing industry mandates that horses must be shod to race although in some parts of the world outlaw racing is allowing barefoot horses to run as nature intended (and they are finding they perform better and remain healthier).
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2014
    Linz, John76 and Shijin13 like this.
  5. Shijin13

    Shijin13 Guest

    I read it this morning... and I concur it should be required reading....

    your sentence which I bolded is why you rarely see stallions or mares running past 3. I think English Channel was the most recent Stallion that ran past 4. And Goldikova being one of the few mares to run past 5 as well. John Henry didn't hit his stride until he was 8 IMO. I was fortunate to see him run in the Arlington Million in '84! They don't make or breed Iron Horses like him any more. they're fragile disconnected animals.

    the Jockey's club is joke, as are their efforts to address the use of medications in horses. Personally I think the entire thoroughbred breed needs a shot of confirmation, stamina and endurance. If I ever won the lotto, I'd look to add the following breeds back into the blood lines (the Jockey's club can eff off): Akahl-Teke, Arabian and Mustangs (might also consider throwing a Morgen Horse in there as well) ehhh but what do I know. I'm just a former horse crazy girl.

    I love that your horses get exactly what they need...
  6. youre in the know gretch

    might consult you for hot tips :p
    Shijin13 likes this.
  7. Da-mo

    Da-mo Gold

    There's only one equine sport I fully approve of and that is endurance racing. It is the only one where the welfare of the animal is the highest priority. Such is the attitude of this sport that the "Best Condition" award, for the horse that finishes in the best health, is considered more prestigious than the award for the outright race winner.
    sjoshua, nicld and Shijin13 like this.
  8. that is very cool
  9. Linz

    Linz Gold

    I have been thinking about discussing horse health here for a while.
    It's regularly reported in the uk that 60 - 90% of working horses have gut ulceration. And metabolic syndromes, Cushings and suspensory injuries seem ever increasing. Horses are mostly heavily rugged (indoors and out), and clipped over and again so no chance their own temperature regulation can work. Our papers and vet newsletters are full of warnings about deaths from sycamore poisoning this year - lower redox or higher level of toxin because the trees are stressed ( probably hypoglycin-A) in the seeds?? The sycamores have been growing for years without poisoning horses in large numbers.

    No doubt breeding ever more extreme conformation and flashy movement is adding to the rate of injury. I think our thoroughbred industry probably does a better job of protecting their breed conformation than the sports horse industry.

    I keep mine like yours Da-mo but I feel that they have been losing their winter coats less efficiently over the last few years with some hardly producing a fine, shiny summer coat at all, but most just clip again so they don't see it.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  10. Da-mo

    Da-mo Gold

    Linz, I rarely cover the horses - only when we have several consecutive days of rain in the winter - otherwise they get rainscald. When I do cover, I use a special rug that allows them to thermo-regulate. This rug allows for air circulation and pilo-erection of the hair follicles. http://macsequine.com/revolutionary-cool-heat-horse-rugs It is basically a wearable tent that leaves a 1/2" air gap between the shell and the horse's skin
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
    Shijin13 likes this.
  11. Shijin13

    Shijin13 Guest

    Josh I'm decent at handicapping. I didn't handicap the derby this year (didn't have time) but the previous 5 years I picked the top 5 finishers - not necessarily in order thought. when I handicap I look at stride confirmation and efficiency. I also look at how the horse behaves before/during/after a race, what their ears do (ears tell a lot about if a horse is comfortable). You can also tell what horses are game when challenged, which horses like to run down the pack and pass them, and those who can only run on the lead. The versatile horse is the one who withstands the pressures of the heard, and does not require the heard to make a decision. If this horse is also able to go eye-ball to eye-ball with another horse and turn them back - you've got a good prospect. This is yet one reason why I think futurity sales are BS. If I was buying a horse I want to see how they behave in a heard dynamic in a paddock. that's going to tell me more than how they behave under tack on the track by themselves.

    I remember picking animal kindom several years ago and several of my handicapping friends scoffed at me. I told them he could run on the front, come from behind, sit off the pace, and turn back challengers w/o issues. add that to his stride confirmation and efficiency - you'd be stupid to bet against him. when they asked me how I picked him - and I laid it all out... they were shocked. it also helped that I liked his pedigree b/c he didn't have any of the "en vogue" studs who regularly throw confirmation faults. http://www.pedigreequery.com/animal+kingdom Its always nice to see a horse running who doesn't have Raise A Native in their blood line.

    I'm sure @Da-mo has a similar process for evaluating his horses.
  12. Da-mo

    Da-mo Gold

    I don't bet on horses but I have watched them at the track. I look at them more in terms of what their mental status is. Due to the way racehorses are raised, there are very few who are what could be called "grown up" mentally - that is what I look for first. This happens when a foal is weaned and within 2 days the herd will lay down the law on them and let them know that the things they got away with as a youngster will no longer be tolerated. Humans interfere with this rite of passage and it cheats the horse out of having an adult mind. The giveaway for it is the opening and closing of the lips - it is a foal behaviour that communicates "I'm just a little baby don't hurt me". I'm looking for a horse that knows what its there for and looks like it knows what its doing - is alert mentally without being stressed and is relaxing and conserving its energy for what is to come.

    If a horse is showing the whites of its eyes and the handler is doing an impersonation of flying a kite - that horse is tight, stressed and wasting a ton of energy. It is basically in survival mode. In this state they only have gross motor skills - the fine motor skills are out the window so co-ordination and balance are affected. These horses are more likely to stumble, trip or even clip their front legs with a hind foot - something that can be absolutely catastrophic if they nick the deep digital flexor tendon when it is under load. When this happens it sounds like a shotgun going off as the whole weight of the horse plus the stored energy can be carried in a single tendon at certain parts of the stride.

    I watch their ears also - horses are generally transparent. They look at what interests them if calm and cant look at what scares them if not calm unless they think they are a safe distance away. If you want to know what a horses attention is on, watch his ears. This is also a good way to see if the horse and jockey are communicating well - each communication from the jockey will be accompanied by an ear flick towards him if the horse is listening.

    I like a horse that commands his own personal space. He will show a warning hoof to any horse getting too close to his butt and will push his nose at any horse in front of him to move them along so long as the handler doesn't have a death grip on the lead rope right under its chin.

    Physically I'm looking for fluidity of movement - which indicates not only mental status by also muscular skeletal health and mobility. As for the musculature, I focus on the muscles used to re- gather the legs and coil the loins during the suspended part of the gait rather than the muscles used during the power stroke. These "collecting" muscles determine how much power can be put to the ground towards the end of the race as the horses tire. They are smaller muscles and will tire first so as they get tired the horse finds it more difficult to get its hind legs well under itself so as to give a nice long power stroke while the feet are on the ground. Unfortunately, the part of the race where this becomes critical is also when the horse is pushed the hardest - and because the hind feet are not further forward under the horse when they touch the ground - they often end up with sacro-iliac problems from over-extending the hind legs. It is very rare to find a retired racehorse without sacro-iliac issues. The other important aspect of the horse being able to effectively coil its loins is that this action pumps the diaphragm so that the horse breathes better at speed. Like Kangaroos, the movement determines the lung function.

    As far as running biomechanics - the ultimate you are looking for (and if you see it consider yourself privileged because you are watching a horse that will be, if not already, one of the greatest) is the double suspension gallop. That is, whereas most horses run like hind, hind, front, front, suspension . . . . . the double suspension gallop has an extra period of suspension between the hind feet and the front feet - the most famous for this was Secretariat. You can see in the diagrams below how this would give the horse more air time for gathering his limbs back underneath himself.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Shinjin is spot on about observing them in a herd. When they run as a mob you can instantly see which ones like to run at the front, in the middle, at the back etc. and which ones like to come from behind. Some horses are more claustrophobic than others which can mean they will squirt forward or suck back when stuck between two other horses but wont attack a gap - that's ok so long as the jockey rides the horse on the outside and the horse has the speed to go round the outside.

    That's what I'd look for . . . . If I were a betting man:D
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
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  13. Shijin13

    Shijin13 Guest

    YES @Da-mo YES YES YES! I remember learning about this through a PBS special called the Magic Way of going ( I have it on VCR Tape!) - and they showed film of Secretariat running the double suspension. In all the film I've watched over the past 10 years i've only see one horse come close to running with a double suspension and that was barbaro. the problem he had in achieving this is he picked his knees up too high coming out of of the gathered suspension, limiting his potential to achieve the extended suspensions efficiently. I also think his gait confirmation directly cause additional stress on his hind legs which resulted in the condylar fracture. In the US his gate was what American horse men would call a "turfer" or grass horse. Yet you don't see that gait in Europeans and they primarily run on grass.

    A good gait confirmation can be seen when a horse is playing in the paddock in the heard. no need to see them run on a track. I'm not sure we'll every see another Secretariat. but I keep hoping. but these days we're not choosing the right things when breeding, nor are we training them correctly. I'd bet good money that your endurance racers would blow the Top Thoroughbreds out of the water on the track any day....
  14. Da-mo

    Da-mo Gold

    Dr. Deb Bennett, the person I respect most regarding equine biomechanics, has given lectures to the racing industry informing them how if they would just spend time teaching their horses how to run "straight" they'd see incredible performance and much better longevity and soundness. Apparently Secretariat taught himself how to be straight in spite of them.

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  15. Da-mo

    Da-mo Gold

    Dr. Deb on racehorse conformation . .
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  16. Jack Kruse

    Jack Kruse Administrator

    My wife has owned horses since she is a little girl and is a bonafide horse freak.
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  17. i work closely with a client who is a horse osteopath
    it is amazing how much crossover we have it what we do even though i deal with bipedal creatures and she deals with quadrupeds
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  18. Shijin13

    Shijin13 Guest

    @Da-mo I've never heard of Dr. Deb. But DAMN Do I love her. I'll be looking up her info and studying it as the next racing season kicks off to see if I can understand her methodology and use it to handicap.

    Nature spent millions of years selecting symmetry of a horse. and yet again Man has messed up that simplicity by breeding for the wrong things...
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