Racehorse Lameness Prevention Course Starts Online Learning Series off on the Right Foot

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For a third consecutive year, Ontario Racing (OR) is partnering with Equine Guelph, Standardbred Canada (SC) and Central Ontario Standardbred Association to offer three online courses in this winter in priority healthcare areas of lameness, respiratory and gut health. Sponsored by OR, the Racehorse Injury/Lameness Prevention & Care course will be first up in January of 2024.

The two-week online short course, developed specifically for the horse racing industry, will be offered from Jan 22 – Feb 2, 2024 and available FREE (value of $95) to the first 100 AGCO and/or SC members licence holders who enroll.

The first two offerings of the Racehorse Injury/Lameness Prevention & Care course in 2022 and 2023 filled up quickly, receiving great feedback from students.  Repeat participants are encouraged to return to review the material and engage in the lively debates in the discussion forums.  Last year there were over 140 posts on hot topics!

Student comments from last year outline the importance of keeping up to date on the increasing amount of material available on the topic of lameness:

“There is a growing knowledge and so much more to learn about lameness in horses. It is probably the most frustrating part of being a horse owner. I’m pretty good at listening to the horse and seeing the signs but I’ve learned a lot more here. If you watch them and really listen they will show you where they hurt. The industry pushes so strongly to keep them on the track running – especially the standardbreds running every week. Sometimes they need a break and I need to be a stronger advocate!!! This course will give me more confidence to do that.”

“The videos in the first few units were very helpful. They showed the bones, ligaments, muscle tissue and how they moved/worked together.”

“I am looking at horses differently when they move.”

Noticing and addressing subtle cues before the horse becomes lame are key to avoiding long lay-offs due to injury.  With input from experienced veterinarians and researchers such as Dr. Jeff Thomason, the course is packed full of practical tips delivered in easy-to-understand video presentations.

Participants will also glean helpful information about bone remodelling during early training which could help guide decisions in routine exercise regimes.

Dr. Melissa McKee, Instructor, Racehorse Injury/Lameness Prevention & Care course
Dr. Melissa McKee, Instructor, Racehorse Injury/Lameness Prevention & Care course

Dr. Melissa McKee will act as course instructor and Dr. Orlaith Cleary will be on-hand in week two as guest expert. McKee grew up in the local horse industry. After graduating, she worked in New Jersey at a large equine referral hospital that provided surgical care, lameness, medicine, emergency, and ambulatory practice, followed by a year in equine practice in Alberta before returning to Ontario as a founding partner of McKee-Pownall Equine Services. She is certified in Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy through the COAC. Melissa has served on the American Association of Equine Practitioners Scholarship, Racing, Education, and Ethics committees, and is an Equine representative for the Ontario Animal Health Network.  Dr. McKee’s professional interests include lameness, diagnostic imaging, MRI, VSMT, and racehorse/sports medicine practice.

McKee will be joined by guest expert, Dr. Orlaith Cleary who graduated with a veterinary degree from University College Dublin, Ireland in June 2003. Cleary joined the Ontario Equine Hospital team in April 2019. Dr. Cleary’s special interests are in advanced imaging (MRI, CT, scintigraphy), as well as all aspects of soft tissue and orthopedic surgery.

McKee and Cleary will be discussing common lameness issues and recent research updates for racehorses as well as early detection and prevention.  You will also learn about the horse’s musculoskeletal system, how they move, best practices for detecting lameness, assessment tools, management of a lame horse and the latest research.

You will discover the diagnostic tools used in lameness exams and learn which training notes are most relevant to help your veterinarian come to a diagnosis.

McKee and Cleary will be joined once again by Industry Ambassadors, Ruleen Lilley and Renée Kierans, who will be on-hand as peer helpers to assist students and ask questions on hot topics.

The discussion boards provide thought provoking information that will help you finish the course better prepared to communicate effectively with your vet.

“Lameness and injuries are ranked as a top three health issue in the Ontario racing industry and we are pleased to make the free course available to trainers and grooms keen on learning about how to reduce the risk through management,” says Gordon Thain, Executive Director, OR. “Ontario Racing is committed to keeping the racing industry up-to-date on the latest information and education in regard to equine welfare, safety and performance.”

Ontario Trainers, Grooms, Owners – Sign up now for the free Racehorse Injury/Lameness Prevention & Care starting January 22. Help your racehorses reach their full potential. For those who have never taken an online course before, no prior online learning experience is required. Limited registrations available.  Be sure to hold the dates and register now for these two-week racing-exclusive online courses! 

Racehorse Injury/Lameness Prevention & Care:  Jan 22 – Feb 2, 2024

Racehorse Gut Health & Ulcer/Colic Prevention:  February 12 – 23, 2024

Racehorse Respiratory Health:   March 4 – 15, 2024