My name is Ken Woodall and I am a Public Handicapper for Thoroughbred racing who has been singly active in researching, studying, and analyzing leg issues in horseracing for 10 years. I have begun making my voice heard by some in the racing community enough to change laws and policies to begin making racing a little safer for the horses.
PETA and the Humane Society seem to have the attitude that despite the fact that some of the most powerful people in the USA are racehorse owners, they can shut down racing completely. Whether that ever happens in the future, my intent is to continue making progress at convincing racing that there are simple, low cost ideas that can reduce the ballpark figure of 20% attrition rate per year due to leg issues. That means less horses needed to go into racing and less disposing and substituting of weaker animals.
My ideas are mainly to prevent and reduce leg problems by identifying minor and potential problems before they cripple the horse. Examples of ideas are eliminating Anabolic Steroids for pre-sale horses; requiring complete medical record transfer from trainer to trainer with the horse; machine diagnostic testing be done every 6 months; horse with verified leg issues be corralled in the track grass infield at non-racing times rather than to continue running on the rock bad dirt track daily; identifying horses more at risk for breakdown based on diagnostic exams and indicators on the racing record.
Barbaro had many leg issues prior to his breakdown that were ignored, including in the post parade. Many breakdowns of Thoroughbreds in racing are due to overworked animals and compressed racing schedules. As far as I know every human sport has a provision for delay-of-game for injuries, racing does not.
My article would be very basic and to the point in listing major current negative aspects of racing relating directly to debilitation of legs of individual runners, my solutions, and who individuals can contact.
Some of my suggestions have been adopted in at least part or inspired policy adjustments by The Jockey Club, California Horse Racing Board, Del Mar and Arlington tracks, and others. With more people writing emails that are to the point and sensible more horses can be saved injuries and pain. Thank you. Ken Woodall.
1) Trainers of racing equine need to verify when the equine is sold that there is no known conditions that would prohibit the animal from racing;
2) In my opinion, Ultrasound and nuclear scan exams should be required of all racehorses every 6 months at all tracks.
3) All trainers and tracks should have a current copy of the horse's Past Performances and medical record at least 6 months back, pertaining to legs and feet, and should consider the following:
(Permission to freely distribute this list given by copyright holder Ken Woodall)
DANGER SIGNS A RACEHORSE MAY HAVE A LEG/FOOT PROBLEM:
D eclining speed
N egative PP comments
F ront wraps