It is well established in human medicine that early life experiences influence health and disease in later life, the so-called “Developmental Origins of Health and Disease” concept. For example, it has been shown that growth in utero and during childhood are associated with bone mineral content, bone mineral density and risk of fractures in adulthood.
In Thoroughbreds, there is a paucity of information on the general management practices of mares and foals and how these might affect the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and performance in later life. Furthermore, up-to-date information on prevalence, causes and risk factors for early wastage in Thoroughbreds is lacking. Wastage has significant economic and welfare implications to the industry and therefore further research is needed.
The aims of this research are to improve our understanding of wastage in young Thoroughbreds between birth and entering race training, and determine early life events and exposures that are associated with musculoskeletal health and race performance in later life. Results from this study can be used to inform intervention strategies aimed at reducing early wastage and optimising musculoskeletal development prior to entering race training.