Several studies have shown that a considerable proportion of horses are eliminated from endurance rides due to lameness and metabolic problems. Limited information is available on specific veterinary issues in endurance horses and there are no descriptive data on veterinary problems in a large population of endurance horses. The aim of this study was to describe veterinary problems occurring in endurance horses in England and Wales, the regions of the United Kingdom where endurance rides are organised and regulated by Endurance Great Britain (Endurance GB). A comprehensive online self-completed questionnaire was used for data collection (30th December 2015-29th February 2016) All members of Endurance GB who were the main rider of one or more endurance horses were eligible to participate. From the target population of 1209 horses, 190 questionnaires were completed by riders, resulting in a 15.7% response rate. The most common rider-reported veterinary problem was lameness, affecting 152/190 (80.0%) of endurance horses at some point during their careers and 101/190 (53.2%) of horses in the previous 12 months. Detailed information on the most recent episode of lameness was available for 147 horses. Seventy-six percent of these lameness episodes (112/147) had been initially identified by a veterinarian, but only 52% of these lameness episodes were investigated further by a veterinarian, despite the high proportion of horses affected by lameness and the proportion of horses with recurrent lameness episodes. The second most common veterinary problem was thoracolumbar region pain, followed by non-specific cough, skin disease and colic. Education of endurance riders may improve the number, quality and timing of veterinary investigations, especially for lameness and thoracolumbar region pain.
- Back pain
- Long distance riding