If you enter your horse in a competition sponsored by the U.S. Eventing Association this year, you’ll be supporting research that may benefit his health. The USEA is assessing $1 per starter to fund equine medical research, and it expects to collect about $40,000 per year for the cause. Private donors have kick-started the project with donations totaling $11,150, and the USEA Endowment Trust and the Amy Tryon Memorial Fund have contributed $10,650.
The association is working with the Morris Animal Foundation to distribute and monitor the funds. The goal is to target projects that will benefit sporthorses, such as the ongoing USEA Equine Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research Study Initiative, as well as new studies. A USEA committee made up of riders and veterinarians will decide which studies to support; Morris, which has expertise in grant programs, will monitor the studies and report on how the money is used.
At the USEA’s 2013 convention in December, researchers Catherine Kohn, VMD, and Rob Stevenson, a Canadian cardiologist (for humans) and eventer, presented an update on the cardiopulmonary study. The researchers are collecting data at all levels of the sport in an effort to understand how horse deaths in eventing relate to the heart. Most equine eventing deaths occur on cross country and result from catastrophic injuries. Sudden cardiac deaths in event horses are rare, about one a year. Dr. Stevenson has worked with a biomedical engineer to create devices that make it easy to assess equine heart function during events without interfering with the horse or rider, and the researchers asked riders at all levels to be open to participating.
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Practical Horseman.