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N Z Vet J., 2005; 53(6): 377-83, PMID: 16317437

Musculoskeletal responses of 2-year-old Thoroughbred horses to early training. Conclusions

Year: 2005

Firth EC, Rogers CW
Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


This paper summarises and presents in context the main findings of an extensive series of studies of early training lasting 13 weeks in which the tissue responses of 2-year-old Thoroughbred horses were assessed using a combination of methods. Negligible clinical injury was detected and thus the study fulfilled the intention of investigating adaptive change rather than injury. Cancellous and cortical bone, some digital tendons, and articular cartilage responded to early training exercise to a greater or lesser degree. Clinical examination and ancillary diagnostic aids currently in veterinary clinical use are not sufficient to detect early abnormalities in metacarpo-phalangeal joint (MCPJ) cartilage found in both trained and untrained horses. Future work should centre on detection of such changes, on the precise registration of training workload, and on the manipulation of the responses of musculoskeletal tissues by careful investigation of the effects of introducing conditioning exercise at a young age.

GID: 1620; Last update: 19.11.2008