Racehorses benefit from lower cost health scans

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Racehorse welfare is being reinforced by a new initiative to bring down the cost of high-tech health scans.

Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) is introducing a rebate of half the cost of using advanced diagnostic imaging to investigate musculoskeletal conditions in thoroughbred and standardbred racehorses, up to $1500.

RWWA Veterinary Services Manager Dr Judith Medd said the rebate would support owners and trainers in providing the best care to horses in training and racing.

“Advanced diagnostic tools such as MRI and CT scans can identify subtle bone and soft tissue changes earlier than conventional techniques like radiology and ultrasound,” she said.

“Instead of simply resting horses if an x-ray doesn’t show any reason for lameness, we can now get a better insight into the reasons behind the problem and potentially fix it.”

The rebate is possible thanks to the one per cent of racing prizemoney set aside for animal welfare initiatives in the 2022 financial year.

“High technology can come at a high price so we’re offering to refund up to half the cost of using advanced imaging to protect the wellbeing of racehorses,” Dr Medd said.

“The ability to spot early musculoskeletal changes will help trainers and their vets apply management strategies to improve the health of horses in their care.

“The benefits go beyond potentially longer careers and improved performance of racehorses to better options when they retire to new equestrian pursuits.

“We are committed to supporting racehorses in successfully moving on to new careers and activities after racing.”

To be eligible, the imaging must be recommended by a vet and the horse must be registered as active or spelling within the relevant national racing database and based in Western Australia for at least three months before applying for the rebate.

The advanced diagnostic imaging tools eligible for the rebate, available from February 1, for a six-month trial period are:

  • Scintigraphy (bone scanning)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT)

The Advanced Imaging Rebate Application Form – AWF036 is available on request from animalwelfare@rwwa.com.au.

Susan de Ruyter