“Thoroughbreds have been genetically selected over many generations to run fast”, says Dr Meredith A. Smith, a vet at the NEH. “Their legs are slim, and their chests are broad and deep girthed which maximises their cardiac and respiratory capacity. There is also an innate love of galloping within them, which sets this breed apart.”
The NEH is the largest and most modern equine hospital in Europe, gathering all specialties of the equine veterinary profession in a state of the art facility that was purpose built in 2008. At NEH the specialist vets and support staff focus on a personalised veterinary service, with the aim of providing the highest level of care and expertise possible to all of their patients, whether they be an elite group one winning racehorse or a much loved family pony.
“In Newmarket, the availability of meticulously prepared gallops stretching for miles ahead allows Thoroughbreds to be exercised at speed safely. The progression from a leggy yearling to a young 2 year old capable of balanced cantering and finally a fit racehorse capable of measured galloping speeds is something that undoubtedly requires professional expertise, but which also comes naturally to this breed and more rapidly than any other. Running in a herd situation is also instinctive for Thoroughbreds.”
Dr Smith is an enthusiastic supporter of ‘The Horse Comes First’. British Horseracing's leading organisations have joined forces for an initiative which promotes the high standards of equine welfare in British racing. “Here in Newmarket the equine vets responsible for the training yards are out on the heath daily watching the horses in their care. Racehorses are treated with an extremely high level of professional care and trainers will do their utmost to keep horses in their care healthy, happy and interested in their work.”
British Racing is proud of its record on horse welfare, and it is open and transparent about the risk associated with the sport. Over the last 15 years, the equine fatality rate in British Racing has fallen from 0.3% to 0.2% of all runners. 14,000 horses in training around the country enjoy a level of care and a quality of life virtually unsurpassed by any other domestic animal. The very best veterinary care is provided for British racehorses. In the last decade, the sport has invested over £20m in veterinary activities, including research and education. This investment brings benefits for the entire population of horses in Britain, not just racehorses.
Click here for a behind the scenes look at the great work of the Newmarket Equine Hospital.