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Sunday, February 10, 2008

French Study Compares DOD in Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Warmblood Foals

An example of a French warmblood sport horse; photo provided by the national stud system of France.

A new study from France compares developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) in three breeds of horses raised with similar environmental and farming conditions. Warmblood, Standardbred, and Thoroughbred foals were compared. The study’s authors include Hoofcare and Lameness Journal consulting edition Jean-Marie Denoix of the CIRALE Center in Normandy, France. The study is published in the February issue of ANIMAL, The International Journal of Animal Biosciences.

Developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) affects all breeds and is a common cause of pain and lameness for horses in sports. The authors remark that no comparison studies have ever been conducted between breeds that included consideration of the conditions on the breeding farms.

The study examined the limb joints of 392 weaning-age foals from 21 participating stud farms. The foals were radiographed on the front- and hind-limb digit, carpus, hock and stifle joints. X-ray data were analyzed by three experienced equine veterinarians who gave a common assessment about the entity and the severity of radiographic findings.

Distribution of breeds in the study was 25.0% Warmblood, 41.1% Standardbred and 33.9% Thoroughbreds.

To quote the authors in the findings of the study:

“DOD was present in 66.3% of the foals (95% confidence interval = 61.6% to 71.0%). The most severely affected sites were the proximal part of the hock and the femoro-patellar joint (of the stifle region) for Warmblood and Standardbred foals, and the fore fetlock and the distal part of the hock for Thoroughbred foals.”

Finding such prevalence in the breeds of horses should make it easier for veterinarians to confidently use radiographs of specific sites to monitor growing horses for developmental problems.

Perhaps the most shocking news of the study was that two-thirds of the foals showed evidence of DOD, in the first place.