The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation’s board of directors announced that the foundation will finance a slate of 19 research projects worth $1,003,580 in 2014. The list includes 11 new projects and five that are in their second year.

Among the projects that are being financed is a study of weight bearing, perfusion and bioenergetics in laminitis. The study, which will be led by Andrew van Eps of the University of Queensland, will begin the first of a two-year grant in 2014.

Van Eps was inducted into the International Equine Veterinarian Hall Of Fame in January during the 11th annual International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati.

Equine laminitis continues to be a devastating complication to multiple equine diseases. Laminitis is reported to affect 2% to 7% of horses annually. Because of the frequency and severity of the disease, it has been listed as the No. 1 priority for equine research by the members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), and as a priority for the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, USDA, etc.

From research performed in the past decade, it has emerged that there are three distinct major forms of laminitis. One of them is supporting-limb laminitis. Although it never has been proven, supporting limb laminitis is suspected to occur as a result of reduced blood supply to the connection between hoof and bone (the lamellar tissue). It is proposed that horses rely upon regular loading and unloading of the foot in order to move blood (containing nutrients and oxygen) through it. Our research groups (Queensland, the University of Pennsylvania, and Ohio State), supported by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, now have strong preliminary data that supports this theory.

This next step will use a protocol that combines real–time monitoring of lamellar tissue blood flow and energy balance with a suitable and humane model of preferential weight bearing on one limb. We seek to confirm the cause of supporting limb laminitis and to test potential therapeutic interventions. It is anticipated that the results of this study will directly guide the design of devices and/or protocols that can be used in the clinical setting to prevent supporting limb laminitis.

An effective preventative strategy would be a significant step forward for the welfare of horses and for the horse industry.

The 2014 allocation brings the foundation’s total impact since 1983 to $20.9 million in financing for 310 projects at 41 universities.

“The overwhelming generosity of members, donors, and those who support our fund-raising events has enabled us to allot $1 million in research this year that will once again benefit horses of all breeds and disciplines,” Chairman Dell Hancock says. “Providing funding of more than $20 million for 310 research projects in a 30-year period certainly confirms the deep commitment of our board and supporters to equine health.”

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