The researchers found the rate of jockey injuries per thoroughbred start is about a tenth of one percent. The rate of injuries for quarter horse starts is almost twice that.
Peta Hitchens is a post-doctoral candidate at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She says the quarter horses also suffered injuries that were more severe:
“Catastrophic injury or sudden death of the horse was actually reported as the most common cause in both thoroughbred and quarter horse races with about 30 percent in thoroughbred racing and about 44 percent of falls in quarter horse racing.”
Hitchens, associate professor Ashley Hill and professor Susan Stover from the J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory found a jockey can expect to be involved in a spill once every 318 quarter horse rides compared to one in every 502 thoroughbred rides.
Hitchens says the next step is to find out why:
“The next study we will be conducting will be on the types of horse injuries that caused those jockey falls. For example, were fetlock injuries to the horses or spinal fractures more likely to have caused a jockey fall or injury?”
The current study can be found in the most recent edition of the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine and was funded by the California Horse Racing Board. Hitchens says she would like future studies to examine risk factors such as jockey experience, horse breeding, and track conditions