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The University of Glasgow has published two research papers in The Veterinary Journal this month which identify several risk factors are associated with an increased likelihood of horses being ascribed a ‘failure to qualify’ at a veterinary check during endurance races.
These recent papers are a further outcome of the Global Endurance Injuries Survey (GEIS), a collaborative research project between the University of Glasgow in the UK and the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), which has funding until 2019 (read more here).
The findings of the two academic papers are summarised below.
This paper analysed data provided by the FEI which comprised of 82,917 starts between 2010 and 2015. Multivariable logistic regression models were constructed to identify horse, ride and rider level risk factors associated with failure to qualify.
Risk factors that were associated with increased likelihood of failure to qualify due to lameness included:
• age of horse being more than 9 years,
• male horse,
• male rider,
• a field size of more than 61 horses and
• if the ride was held in region group II (Northern and Eastern Europe).
Risk factors that were associated with increased likelihood of failure to qualify due to metabolic problems included:
• whether the ride was held in region group VII (North Africa and the Middle East),
• ride distance more than 100 km and
• male rider.
The results of this multivariable model point towards potential underlying causes of elimination due to lameness and metabolic problems experienced by endurance horses.
This study examined the association between riding speed and elimination in Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) endurance events. A total of 35,061 horse starts from 1st July 2012 to 31st December 2015 were included in a multivariable logistic regression model containing 25 different risk factors.
Riding speeds in individual stages of the race (‘loops’) were included as individual risk factors in studying the progress of horses through loops 1–3 of each endurance ride. The possibility of real-time, ‘mid-ride’ predictive modelling was explored by modelling both riding speeds and sudden changes in speed between loops as potential risk factors.
Speed was an observed risk factor:-
• Faster riding speeds, especially during loops 1 and 2, were associated with deleterious outcomes.
• Sudden drops in riding speed during loop 3 were associated with an increased likelihood of elimination.
Can risk be modified?
Some risk factors, such as field size, age and distance, may be modifiable if the behaviour of organisers, riders and trainers is also modifiable. Other factors, such as year, region group and rider gender, would be difficult to modify; however, by quantifying the influences these have on the likelihood of deleterious outcomes, we can move a step closer to fully understanding the risks involved for horses during endurance rides. Awareness of the risk contributed by these factors can provide veterinarians with additional information while treating horses during endurance rides.
Links to the academic papers are below:-
Paper 1: Fédération Equestre Internationale endurance events: Risk factors for failure to qualify outcomes at the level of the horse, ride and rider (2010–2015)
Paper 2: Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) endurance events: Riding speeds as a risk factor for failure to qualify outcomes (2012–2015)