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NYRA Begins New Phase in StrideSAFE Sensor Technology Research

Since last summer, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) has been testing thousands of runners with discreet sensor technology that can detect subtle changes in a horse’s gait at high speeds.

A biometric sensor mechanism called StrideSAFE slips into the saddle cloth and works like a traffic light signal. Green for all clear, yellow for potential warning (brighter than dark amber) and red for potential danger.

The ultimate goal of StrideSAFE, the focus of discussion at the recent Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation Racehorse Welfare and Safety Summit, is to detect health problems invisible to the naked eye before they become catastrophic. is to After about 6,500 races, the results are displayed.

Of the 20 horses with fatal musculoskeletal injuries during the trial period, 17 were rated red in the race before suffering a catastrophic injury. was previously rated as dark amber.

Importantly, these red and dark amber ratings were issued either the race immediately before the failure, or 2-3 races before.

Therefore, from the results of this study, StrideSAFE technology detected 90% of horses with catastrophic injuries weeks or months in advance.

StrideSAFE founder Dr. David Lambert said:

This leads to the next step along the path. In short, a comprehensive program to first identify the horses at highest risk and then properly manage and diagnose them.

This is because 17 fatally injured horses with red ratings from previous races were among the hundreds red flagged during trials.

Some of these flagged horses are at high risk of suffering a catastrophic injury, while others are more likely to suffer non-fatal career-ending injuries, some challenge The trick is to identify each one quickly and accurately.

“At this point last year we were observing trying to figure out what this meant. Now we know enough to say [cautionary] Dr. Scott Palmer, director of horse medical care for the New York State Gambling Commission, spoke about the new trainer email alert system that will be unveiled in Saratoga.

“This means we’re no longer just watching what happens,” Palmer added.

Sarah Andrew

What is StrideSAFE?

This wireless, iPhone-like device fits snuggly in a saddle towel and takes multiple measurements at 800 times per second to capture detailed horse movements at high speeds.

These measurements include the horse’s acceleration and deceleration, the horse’s up-and-down rocking motion, and the horse’s in-and-out motion, or side-to-side movement of the horse.

Ultimately, the sensors capture the kind of high-speed lameness that the naked eye can’t see, but that’s enough to cause significant musculoskeletal damage at some point, unless someone intervenes on the horse’s behalf first, of course.

To understand exactly how StrideSAFE identifies the nearly invisible signs of lameness, it helps to divide a single stride into three distinct stages.

In the first stage of galloping, the hind legs are loaded and propel the horse forward. In the second stage, the horse shifts its weight forward and the forelimbs act like shock absorbers. This is followed by the key to the equation. That is, a momentary pause during which the horse is completely in the air.

If the horse has a physical illness or injury, it cannot adjust its body to compensate if its feet are on the ground. Rotate your spine and pelvis in preparation for

Imagine a race car speeding along and one of the bolts is loose.

“Horses do all sorts of things in the air. They twist, they rock, they move,” Lambert previously explained. TDN.

This leads to an important question: How are red, amber, and green ratings calculated?

About 151 subtle variables are measured per stride, but only 15 are important to highlight important differences in individual horses, Lambert said.

In summary, we can create a basic baseline from 0 (the safest green rating) to over 8 (at the bright red end of the spectrum) to compare all horses.

At the high end of that range (greater than 8 standard deviations) the findings were surprising. A horse given this rating in the previous race had a greater than 50% chance of being fatally injured in the next race or in a breeze.

More broadly, of the 6,458 runs of the NYRA study, 74.5% were rated green, 6.6% light amber, 5.5% dark amber, and 13.4% red.

This meant 865 horses were red flagged. This is a relatively small percentage of all runners.

However, given that these horses are not visibly lame, it is difficult to diagnose whether they have underlying physical problems, so the few horses most likely to break down Many horses still need to be sifted to identify the

Sarah Andrew

Lambert developed the technology with Swedish Ph.D. Mikael Holmstroem. Dr. Kevin Donohue, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Kentucky, with expertise in equine conformation and locomotion.

So Lambert and this team tweaked the algorithm to identify the horses that were most at risk and shaved off those with less immediate danger. focused on.

“Once we find a pattern, we direct modeling,” explains Lambert. “And then we did that and we saw a 40% improvement and we were able to get it down to about 7%. [fatally injured horses]”

Other red flags should be ignored, as research has shown that the physical deterioration that leads to devastating musculoskeletal damage is a lengthy degenerative process that typically spans weeks to months. It doesn’t mean that there is.

This is consistent with the scientific literature on catastrophic failure, showing how often pre-existing damage appears at the actual site of injury.

“This is not a case of being healthy one moment and broken the next. The process is a continuum,” says Lambert. “This is not a reliable sanity screen,” he added.

Of all green rated horses in the NYRA survey, 77% rerun within 60 days and 85% rerun within 120 days.

The same study has not yet been done on red flag horses, says Lambert. However, in an analysis at the beginning of the program, only about 40% of horses classified as red were able to run for the next four months after the race analyzed.

This means that once a horse receives a warning flag, there should be a process to focus it towards the proper tools to diagnose the brewing problem.

“The analogy is the check engine light on your car,” says Palmer, who agrees with Lambert. “What does it mean when that check engine light comes on? It means you need someone to check your car.”

Sarah Andrew

Palmer said he and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) recently launched a new system in Saratoga. This ensures that the trainer of a horse that has been caution flagged in a race will subsequently receive an email his alert, or what is called a “letter of recommendation.” ”

“a [cautionary] Alerts are not “scarlet letters”. [the horse is] Either die or break bones,” Palmer said of what such an email could mean. “The bottom line is that the horse needs to be seen by a veterinarian. That’s the bottom line.”

StrideSAFE can detect lameness that is invisible to the naked eye, so some, but not always, brewing problems will only be detected using more sensitive diagnostic techniques on the market.

“Some of them [veterinarians and trainers] We’ll be able to find something with the flex test and the usual diagnostic tests, the hoof tester,” Palmer said.

Nevertheless, Palmer stresses that in most cases the added veterinary scrutiny will result in a diagnostic thumbs up, calling it a “no one-size-fits-all” scenario.

“If it’s a minor problem, the horse will rest for a while and come back and all will be well,” he said. “In some cases, we fully expect that nothing will be found and the horse will be able to return soon and resume racing.”

In consideration of future work, NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum turned to a baseball analogy to describe a one-time or two-time program.

“This is great,” said Appelbaum. “But we need the broadest possible dataset. We need to share that data and explore it hard. We are at the beginning of this game, not the end.”