Horse welfare is a priority in the equine sport of endurance riding. Research to date has focused on identifying and reducing risk factors associated with elimination and lameness. However, this has centered on international competition. National federations recognize there is a need to consider risk factors for elimination at a more local level. This retrospective cohort study aimed to determine current risk factors associated with horse eliminations, specifically lameness eliminations within British endurance.
Researchers extracted data from the Endurance GB database. This data included open and advanced horses, competing in rides >64 km in the 2017 and 2018 competitive seasons. Researchers analyzed variables via univariable models, which informed subsequent multivariable binary logistic regression modeling. They completed two models, A: horse eliminated versus not eliminated, and B: horse lame versus not lame.
Factors for Lameness Elimination in Endurance Riding
Researchers analyzed 1,747 competitive starts. Among them, 542 horses were eliminated. Lameness accounted for 56.1% (n = 304) of eliminations. Graded rides had decreased odds of lameness compared with race rides (Adjusted Odds Ratio, OR 0.6; 95% Confidence Interval, CI 0.4-0.8). Horses competing in FEI competitions of 2* and above had increased odds of elimination (OR 4.7, CI 3.5-6.5) and increased odds of lameness (OR 1.9, CI 1.2-3.06) compared to rides run under national rules. Horses and riders who had not competed as a combination previously had increased odds of elimination (OR 2.2, CI 1.5-3.02).
Competitive history of horses, including the number of previous starts, previous eliminations and the category of ride entered are significant in establishing the likelihood of an elimination and more specifically a lameness elimination in British national endurance.