Science meets horse breeding: Value of biomechanics in racehorse selection outlined

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Biomechanics involves the analysis of various physical aspects of a horse, from its organ function to stride balance at racing speeds, all of which can affect speed and soundness.
Image by Greg Gwynne

Thoroughbred owners learned how biomechanics can aid in the selection of racehorses at the most recent session of the Thoroughbred Owner Conference series in the US.

Biomechanics experts joined the eighth session of the conference last week to talk about how the science of biomechanics can be used to identify top racehorses.

The panel included Jeff Seder, president and chief executive officer of Equine Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology Inc. (EQB), and Suzanne Smallwood, president and chief analyst of Equix. They talked about how biomechanics involves the analysis of various physical aspects of a horse, from its organ function to stride balance at racing speeds, and that they all can affect its speed and soundness. They noted that they are looking to identify subsets of horses that come from groups that have already been selected by horsemen as having potential.

Seder shared a video of horses who were breezing at a two-year-old sale that showed biomechanics deficiencies can be spotted using slow-motion videos. He showed how data recorded from horses in motion can be displayed in graphical form and emphasized that EQB uses an enormous amount of historical data to effectively analyze the potential of a horse being evaluated in the present.

“We start with really good horsemen, and then we put an overlay of technology on that,” Seder said.

Smallwood’s team at Equix takes physical measurements of yearlings based on proven data models to predict a horse’s growth patterns, racing potential, and overall efficiency.

She discussed the different physical measurements, how they can affect a horse’s performance, and examples of top racehorses and stallions that fit Equix’s metrics for success.

“You’re still learning all of the time with the biomechanics,” she said.

The session has been recorded and made available for viewing. There is no registration fee for the live or recorded virtual conference series, but registration is required.

The biomechanics session was sponsored by Sackatoga Stable, Silver Springs Stud, and WinStar.

The next session of the series, “Breeding to Win,” is on Tuesday, November 2.

The conference series is hosted by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and presented by Bessemer Trust, Dean Dorton Equine, Stoll Keenon Ogden, and Stonestreet Farm.

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