Study: Tongue Lesions Common In Finnish Trotting Horses

A Finnish study has found that 83 percent of Standardbred racehorses and 90 percent of Finnhorse racehorses have tongue lesions caused by bits, reports The Horse

The study used 261 racehorses on four Finnish tracks and found that 84 percent of the horses had moderate to severe mouth lesions. However, only 2 percent of the horses had blood that could be seen without opening the horse’s mouth. 

All horses at the track were required to have an exam when the horse finished racing. The research team classified the horses into four categories based on the number, extent and severity of bruising and open wounds in the horse’s mouth,

Researcher Dr. Kati Tuomola concluded that all bits could cause mouth lesions, including unjointed bits and Happy Mouth (bits with a rubber-wrapped mouthpiece) bits, whether or not blood was apparent on the horse. Bit type is the most significant factor affecting mouth lesions, with the worst lesions associated with the single-joint Crescendo bit, which places pressure on small surface areas. Horses that were raced in mild, unjointed bits had lesions on the bars of their mouth.  

The study team found no relation between the severity of lesions and the horse’s race placings or if the horse broke stride. The team concluded that horses that race well aren’t exempt from welfare concerns. The scientists also note that 16 percent of the study horses had no oral lesions, so it is possible to race without harming the horse’s mouth. 

Read more at The Horse

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