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Evaluation of X-ray data from young thoroughbred horses

Last changed: 14 October 2016

Diagnostic reports written to assist stud managers in the sale of young Thoroughbreds have not previously been used as a data source for the study of skeletal lesions. However, analyses of these reports may provide efficient and cost-effective insights into the prevalence and distribution of skeletal lesions within a population.

Diagnostic reports written by veterinarians were acquired from Thoroughbred stud managers in Australia and New Zealand. The reports were based on approximately 1300 sets of weanling and yearling radiographs taken between 2002 and 2007. The prevalence and anatomical distribution of skeletal lesions in weanlings (299 horses) and yearlings (1004 horses) were determined from these reports.

Overall, 69.9% of weanlings and 64.5% of yearlings were reported as having one or more skeletal lesions. Diagnostic reports in weanlings were a strong indication of what was likely to be seen in subsequent yearling reports.

These diagnostic reports are typically used by stud managers in the sales process and the potential drawback is that some categories of skeletal lesions may be under-reported. However, there was substantial agreement between the prevalence and distribution of several skeletal lesions reported in this study and those previously reported from direct evaluation of radiographs for Australian and New Zealand Thoroughbred yearlings. Strong agreement was found for osteophytes, enthesiophytes and other modelling in the hocks, and for lesions in the hind fetlocks and stifles. This indicates that written diagnostic reports are a useful and a reliable source of data for the study of some skeletal lesions in young Thoroughbred horses.

Link to the article

Johanna M. Axling, Kao Castle, Brandon D. Velie, Imke Tammen, Peter C. Thomson, Natasha A. Hamilton, Herman W. Raadsma, Gabriella Lindgren, Leo B. Jeffcott, Frank W. Nicholas. Use of diagnostic reports to estimate prevalence and distribution of skeletal lesions in young Thoroughbreds. The Veterinary Journal. 2016,volume 214, pages 72–76.


Brandon Velie
Postdoctor at the Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics; Division of Molecular Genetics