Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit

The first Welfare and Safety of Racehorse Summit was held in October 2006 and was coordinated by the Grayston-Jockey Research Foundation and The Jockey Club. This year the second summit is taking place on the 17th and the 18th of March 2008, and is hosted by the Keeneland Sales Pavilion. Issues and improvements raised at the first summit will be discussed and analyzed. The main goal of the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit is to make racing safer for horses and to address issues in regard to their health and wellbeing.

Most of the topics that were discussed at the first summit, included issues such as shoeing, race conditions, track surfaces, hoof care, education and injuries suffered while racing, amongst other problems. During this year’s Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse summit, committee members will be listening to the progress made and findings made during the research of these issues and welcome the discussion of new concerns from those in the horse racing industry.

Being educated on report findings, such as the research done by Mary Scollay in regard to racing injuries, and soft tissue injuries caused by track surfaces researched by Sue Stover and Wayne McIlwraith, assists the various committees at the summit to address these issues and make informed decisions to alleviate these problems. The importance of track surfaces in regard to injuries has been noticeable over the last few years, as more tracks have been forced to upgrade their dirt track to synthetic tracks, which has led to a significant reduction in racing related injuries. Mary Scollay has been working closely with The Jockey Club and approximately sixty racetracks to record injuries, of which two thousand have been documented since the program started, and to analyze the data so as to hopefully single out the causes of the injuries and find solutions. Although the issue of drugs and steroids has not been discussed at great length by the summit, Ed Bowen will be speaking at the summit to highlight some of the findings, research and problems that have caused so much controversy regarding medication.

Trying to work through the problems that plague horse racing is serious business for the sixty members who will be attending the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit. Working together to find solutions to protect the health for horses, improve their care and ensure safety on the racetrack, is a goal every members strives for. With summits like the Welfare and Safety of Racehorse Summit, answers to questions can be found and the future of racing improved upon.