Associations between pre-injury racing history and tibial and humeral fractures in Australian Thoroughbred racehorses.


Equine Centre, Melbourne Veterinary School, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, 250 Princes Hwy Werribee, Victoria, 3030, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]


Long bone fractures in racehorses may present as stress fractures which have a good prognosis, or complete fractures, which often result in a fatal outcome. In order to identify differences in modifiable management practices that may contribute to these outcomes, racing histories of horses with humeral or tibial fractures and of matched controls were examined. A retrospective case-control study of Australian Thoroughbred racehorses diagnosed with a fracture of the humerus or tibia by scintigraphy or at post-mortem between 2002 and 2016 was undertaken. Control horses were matched from the same race or trial on age and sex. Statistical analysis was performed using conditional logistic regression, χ2 and Mann-Whitney U tests. More humeral fractures than tibial fractures were fatal (12/47, 26% vs. 3/35, 8.6%, P = 0.049). No differences in pre-injury racing histories were observed between cases and controls for humeral and tibial fractures. Both humeral and tibial fracture case horses were younger than the registered Thoroughbred racing population (P < 0.001), but horses sustaining humeral fractures were older than those with tibial fractures (3.3 ± 0.9 vs. 2.8 ± 0.8 years, P = 0.005) yet raced fewer times prior to the injury (0.5 ± 1.1 vs. 1.3 ± 1.7 races, P = 0.009). Horses with fatal humeral fractures were less likely to have raced than those with non-fatal humeral fractures (16.7% vs. 55.6%, P = 0.02). In conclusion, tibial and humeral fractures occur in young racehorses, and humeral fractures are more likely to be fatal in those with the least exposure to trialling and racing.


Fracture,Humerus,Stress fracture,Tibia,