Since 2012, the Saskatchewan Equine Expo has raised over $100,000 in support of vital horse health research targeting equine obesity, orthopedic injuries, laminitis, septic arthritis, wound healing, and many other horse health issues.
The funding, which comes from the proceeds of the annual event, supports horse health research conducted at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine through its Townsend Equine Health Research Fund (TEHRF). With grassroots support from Western Canada’s horse industry, the research fund has backed a variety of groundbreaking studies that have made a significant impact on equine health around the world.
The innovative research fund, which was created in 1977, has also gained a reputation for supporting pilot studies in unexplored areas of horse health and for encouraging young researchers to look at horse health issues with fresh eyes. For example, the equine fund supported a group of WCVM researchers who were among the first to describe hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP) in quarter horses and its familial link to the well-known sire Impressive. Another series of studies, supported by TEHRF, discovered the basic nutritional needs of western Canadian horses of all ages in summer and winter months.
In 2018, the WCVM’s equine research fund allocated more than $107,000 to support six projects that are now in progress:
- How can computer models improve treatment for horses diagnosed with recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (roaring)?
- How can a new technique provide real-time pictures of a horse’s lung ventilation during surgery?
- Can a new protein eliminate breeding-induced inflammation in mares?
- Is a protein (serum amyloid A) reliable as a biomarker for septic arthritis?
- What is killing Sable Island horses and how can this knowledge help to develop better deworming strategies for all horses?
- How can an electronic pill provide real-time data of a horse’s gastrointestinal tract?
In addition to supporting nearly 300 research projects over four decades, TEHRF supports specialized training in equine health for residents and graduate students. It has also encouraged generations of veterinary students to pursue equine-health-related careers in private practice, research, academia, and industry.
As well, the fund promotes equine health education and awareness among members of Western Canada’s horse industry through educational seminars, industry meetings and horse health articles in its publication, Horse Health Lines. For more information about TEHRF and its initiatives, please visit www.tehrf.ca