Study: More Than Half Of Eventers Coming Back From Cross Country With Mouth Sores

Concern over oral injuries from bit use has equine advocates questioning horse welfare in many disciplines, including harness racing and eventing. A Finnish study has shown that horses competing in eventing are at greater risk of developing mouth sores after the cross-country phase of competition.

Drs. Kati Tuomola, Nina Mäki-Kihniä, Anna Valros, Anna Mykkänen and Minna Kujala-Wirth looked into the mouths of 208 event horses at the conclusion of the cross-country phase at eight competitions. They found that 52 percent of the horses had acute oral lesions; of these, 22 percent were mild, 26 percent were moderate and 4 percent of the horses had severe lesions. The team found that oral bruising was more common than open wounds.

Researchers also found that horses competing in particularly thin or thick bits were at greater risk of oral lesions, likely due to mechanics and fit. Additionally, Warmbloods and cold-blooded horses were at higher risk of having oral lesions than ponies, and mares were more likely to have serious lesions than geldings.

The researchers advise that bit monitoring be implemented by horse owners and by competition management to ensure equine welfare. There was no association between lesions and competition placement during the study; high-performing horses are still at risk of oral lesions.

Read the article here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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