Projects

Currently Funded Projects

C Rogers
2020

Jockey Falls and Fitness

$59,400
R.Colborne
2020

Model of the Thoroughbred forelimb

$167,462
L.Morris
2019

Embryo metabolism and pregnancy loss

$90,000
I. Scott
2019

Effect of season on egg reappearance post treatment

$34,472
E Gee
2018

Best Practice Equine Parasite Control

$80,136
C Rogers
2018

Racing Injury Project

$135,250
T Woodfield
2018

3D Bioassembly of Allogeneic Cartilage Constructs for Cartilage Repair

$230,829
C. Bolwell
2017

Jumps racing in New Zealand

$38,945
H Sano
2017

Predicting post anaesthetic myopathy in horses

$21,520
L. Kamm/Chris Riley
2017

Immune responses to allogeneic stem cell treatments in vitro

$248,000
S. Mack
2016

Antimicrobial prescribing practice in NZ equine veterinary practice

$8,450
G. Fitch
2015

Changes in airway dynamics with fitness and training in standardbred race horses

$35,730
C. Riley
2014

Infrared-based serum biomarkers for the early detection of osteoarthritis in horses

$132,360
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C Rogers
2020
$59,400

Jockey Falls and Fitness

Abstract: Jockey’s have an integral role in the quality of racing and the welfare of the race horse. However, despite this pivotal role there is limited data published on the physiological challenges of race riding and the influence muscular fatigue. In addition to the lack of data on the physical demands of race riding there has be limited attention paid to the risk factors for jockeys being dislodged during a race or having a horse fall. Examination of the race records for the last 15 years will provide data on jockey workload, career length, and what race, and horse, characteristics increase the risk of jockey falls during a race. This project looks the physical demands of race day riding, what muscles are used and how best to train and condition jockeys. Data will be collected while the jockeys ride work to identify the muscles used, the time to fatigue, and the inter-relationship of this with the synchronisation of the jockey with the horse. Based on this data an intervention programme will be developed to provide a strength and conditioning programme specifically for jockeys. This programme would be a world first and will help promote the high welfare standards within the New Zealand racing industry.

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R.Colborne
2020
$167,462

Model of the Thoroughbred forelimb

Abstract: Our objective is to retire the recently developed limb model with muscle inputs that more realistically define each muscle's ability to contribute to the measured joint movements. As currently configured, the model uses mostly basic 2-element muscles which represent a contractile element for the muscle fibers and a serial elastic element for the tendon. In this muscle model, the force-length and the force velocity relationships of the contractile element as well as the force~length relationship of the serial element are linear. Other muscles, determined by dissection to have a pennation angle greater than 20deg have been modeled as basic 3-element Hill muscles. This muscle model includes a contractile element for the active muscle fibers, a non-linear serial elastic element for the tendon and a non-linear parallel elastic element for the passive part of the muscle fibers. However, this more complicated muscle model needs more inputs to make them more realistic, such as contraction velocity, relative stiffness of the parallel elastic element, nominal tendon strains, contribution to normalized maximum velocity for fast and slow twitch muscle fibres and shape constants for the tendon element and parallel elastic element force relationships. Some of these values are estimated in the literature for generic muscles, but we will test muscles from Thoroughbred cadavers to ensure accurate representation in our model.

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L.Morris
2019
$90,000

Embryo metabolism and pregnancy loss

Abstract: Previous studies have shown that despite high fertilization rates occurring in the oviduct of the horses, the first cycle conception rate in New Zealand Thoroughbreds is only 53%. This represents a 47% failure rate in the ability of the mare to support the early stages of embryo development. To further our understanding of early embryonic development we propose to develop an in vitro model which will compare the metabolism of in vivo and in vitro derived embryos. In other species, the metabolism of glucose and the production of lactate have been predictive of embryo viability. Furthermore the glucose requirements of embryos in other species vary between males and females. This is of ecological significance and a gender bias associated with changing body condition score at the time of conception in Kaimanawa horses has been reported in New Zealand. Therefore, our study will examine the metabolism of embryos based on gender and source (in vivo versus in vitro) and use that data to determine if embryo metabolism outcomes can be predictive of viability. Then we will be able to examine the metabolism requirements of embryos by gender in an effort to optimise the culture conditions for our in vitro model of early embryo development. This study will have benefits for understanding infertility in all horses as well as developing in vitro options for managing fertility in standardbreds and sporthorses.

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I. Scott
2019
$34,472

Effect of season on egg reappearance post treatment

Abstract: Shortened egg reappearance periods (ERP) provide an early warning of developing anthelmintic resistance. The ERP is the time after anthelmintic treatment that an animal's faeces is free of parasite eggs , until the next generation of adult parasites commences egg laying. A shortened ERP means that whilst egg-laying adults are still being killed, efficacy against earlier larval stages has declined. and after treatment, the larvae finish development and eggs reappear earlier. Horse parasite populations vary on a seasonal basis with more larval stages present in winter, but so far the impact of this on egg reappearance periods is unknown. If season does influence the ERP then this may be an important factor in deciding when it is best to do such testing. In addition , there are questions around which anthelmintics provide the best efficacy against worms that are developing resistance, and whether the resistance recorded many years ago to some older anthelmintics is still present. The latter is important since it affects the likely usefulness of the older drugs - if there has been some reversion towards susceptibility, then more use can be made of them , especially in the likely absence of any new anthelmintics at least in the short term.

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E Gee
2018
$80,136

Best Practice Equine Parasite Control

Abstract: Recommendations for internal parasite control for horses are changing due to emerging parasite resistance. Traditionally, parasite control has been achieved by frequent routine administration of broad-spectrum drenches to all animals. However, this practice now threatens the health and welfare of horses because many worm populations have become resistant to the drugs. Researchers around the world have been working to find solutions to this emerging problem focussing on how maintain good parasite control and horse health while reducing the speed of development of resistance to the available drugs. Recently, researchers from the USA and New Zealand have combined to develop computer models capable of assessing which treatment regimens are likely to be effective at slowing the development of resistance. These new approaches to worm control in horses will constitute the new ‘Best Practice’ advice to horse owners. However, these new approaches need to be tested in the field to ensure their applicability to New Zealand horses, and provide scientific evidence of their efficacy to veterinarians and horse owners. The purpose of this project is to field-test the new Best Practice recommendations for control of both cyathostomin and Parascaris parasites of horses to ensure they maintain good parasite control and horse health.

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C Rogers
2018
$135,250

Racing Injury Project

Abstract: Increased public awareness of animal welfare issues has resulted in the need for racing jurisdictions to accurately measure the risk of injury and death to racing horses. Recent work by our group highlighted the reasons why horses fail to finish a race and identified a lower rate of musculoskeletal injury during flat races in New Zealand than other racing jurisdictions. The Racing Injury Project aims to provide evidence that can be used by stakeholders to help inform policies and strategies to improve the prevention of injuries in racing. This project will build on our previous work to identify the specific reasons for injury and death in racing Thoroughbreds in New Zealand. Injury and performance data up to the 2018 racing season will be compiled and analysed to identify the veterinary events occurring during racing, and determine the number and different types of catastrophic injuries sustained by horses during trialing and racing. The outcomes of this project can be used by policy makers to develop strategies to minimize the risk of racing injuries and improve the welfare of racing horses.

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T Woodfield
2018
$230,829

3D Bioassembly of Allogeneic Cartilage Constructs for Cartilage Repair

Abstract: One of the most significant causes of morbidity and mortality in the equine industJy is joint disease. Both developmental orthopaedic disease and degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) may result in large cartilage defects that limit athletic performance. Joint disease cont1ibutes to both economic loss to the industJy and welfare concerns in the horse. The need for successful and clinically applicable strategies to repair cartilage is a pressing issue for the equine athlete as cartilage has limited ability to heal. The use of stem cells for treatment of these conditions has shown promising results. In the present study, we are seeking a better cartilage healing strategy by coupling stem cells with a 3D printed scaffold that that can be applied in the horse.

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C. Bolwell
2017
$38,945

Jumps racing in New Zealand

Abstract: Internationally, the risk of horses suffering a catastrophic musculoskeletal (MS) injury during jumps races is greater than seen in flat racing. Although Jumps racing in New Zealand has a low level of participation, making up only 4% of races, a cluster of fatalities reported in jumps races in New Zealand in 2016 has once again raised the public profile of this discipline. Arguments regarding the associated risks and the safety and welfare of horses in racing have been raised. The rate of horse fatalities and musculoskeletal injuries occurring in jumps races in New Zealand has, however, not been documented. Although international studies have identified key risk factors relating to falls and injury during jumps races, factors specific to the racing environment in New Zealand have not been investigated. Furthermore, cross-disciplinary studies are required to provide an integrated approach to assessing the social, economic and welfare challenges surrounding jump racing. The aim of the study is to utilise industry data and reports to determine the rate of fatalities and MS injury during jumps races. Furthermore, specific factors associated with the risk of MS injury will be identified. The outcome of this work will provide evidence for informed decisions on the viability of jump racing in New Zealand to be made, as well as providing an assessment of the risk of welfare compromise.

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H Sano
2017
$21,520

Predicting post anaesthetic myopathy in horses

Abstract: General anaesthesia is necessary for most surgical and many diagnostic procedures. However, the death rate associated with anaesthesia is extremely high in horses (0.9- 8.0%) compared with other species (humans: 0.01%, small animals: 0.05-0.1%). As many as 50~78% of deaths following anaesthetic recovery in horses are a result of severe muscle injury (myopathy). These problems are generally associated with poor delivery of oxygen to muscles because of cardiovascular depression caused by the anaesthetics and/or muscle compression due to improper positioning of a horse. As a result, a poor quality of recovery from anaesthesia may occur, resulting in long bone fractures, and the horse being put to sleep. However, current anaesthetic monitoring measures indirect parameters such as blood pressure and not blood flow and oxygenation in the muscle. Therefore, a direct measurement of muscle oxygen would be useful because the ultimate goal of anaesthetic management is to deliver enough oxygen to tissues. We aim to investigate whether a tissue oxygen sensor can predict post anaesthetic myopathy. The findings will be translated for use with veterinarians locally and internationally to improve the quality of equine anaesthetic recoveries, and to decrease the mortality and wastage associated with anaesthesia.

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L. Kamm/Chris Riley
2017
$248,000

Immune responses to allogeneic stem cell treatments in vitro

Abstract: Early work on the therapeutic use of stem cells for equine orthopaedic disease has shown some benefit for soft tissue lesions and articular cartilage damage. Initial work was done with stem cells derived from the actual patient but, more recently, interest has increased in allogenic derived cells (from another horse). This study aims to identify equine bone marrow derived stem cells that are optimally suited for transfer from one horse to another. In a previous study, cells were harvested from donor horses, cultured, and cell surface markers identified. Now, we would like to use our knowledge of the cell surface markers to determine how these markers affect the recipient's immune system. Our hypothesis is that cells lacking markers that stimulate the immune system are most readily accepted by a recipient horse. In order to determine if our hypothesis is correct, we will use our previously characterized cells to compare those cells expressing immune-reactive markers to cells with no or very low expression of these markers. The stem cells will be cultured with white blood cells. Immune stimulation will be determined by testing the white blood cells for changes in their protein expression, for cell division which occurs when lymphocytes are activated and for white blood cell survival. The stem cells will be monitored for their survival and for changes in RNA expression. Our intention is to identify those cells that are the least likely to be rejected by the immune system, as potential universal donors for equine patients.

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S. Mack
2016
$8,450

Antimicrobial prescribing practice in NZ equine veterinary practice

Abstract: Antimicrobials (antibiotics) are commonly prescribed to humans and animals for the treatment of infectious conditions. The use of antimicrobials is important in maintaining human and animal health and welfare. Bacteria resistant to antimicrobials (antimicrobial resistance) are of global concern in both humans and animals health. The development of antimicrobial 2 resistance in horses will lead to poorer outcome of treatment for infections. There is a risk of increased foal mortality due to resistant bacteria causing disease. There is also great concern for wastage of racehorses due to resistant bacteria causing airway disease and affecting the horse’s long term performance and possible survival. Responsible antimicrobial prescribing can help prevent the development of antimicrobial resistance. Currently, in equine veterinary practice in New Zealand there is no restriction to the use of antimicrobials. Antimicrobial prescriptions are based on an individual veterinarian’s clinical judgement. A recent study of bacteria causing respiratory diseases in young horses in New Zealand identified that 39.2% (392/1000) of horses had at least one multidrug resistant bacteria. This study highlighted that multidrug resistance is an emerging problem for young horses in New Zealand. Determining the current antimicrobial prescribing patterns of equine veterinarians is a critical next step to determine the risk of antimicrobial resistance development in New Zealand and hence the potential impact on equine health and the equine industry.

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G. Fitch
2015
$35,730

Changes in airway dynamics with fitness and training in standardbred race horses

Abstract: The limitations of resting endoscopy in the identification of airway abnormalities that occur during exercise are well recognized (Barakzai et al 2011, Kelly et al 2013). Abnormalities of the upper airway observed at rest have been correlated with subsequent racing performance/earnings in Thoroughbreds (Garrett et al 2010), but not Standardbreds. For many horses, such grading may not reflect functioning when racing. Dynamic airway examination (scoping while exercising) was first performed using high-speed treadmills, but has been superseded by dynamic overground endoscopy (Pollock et al 2009, Van Erck 2011, Priest et al 2012, Compostella 2012, Pollock et al 2013). This mobile endoscopy system enables race conditions to be simulated to fully assess the upper airway for performance limiting problems of the upper airway, so as to more accurately diagnose conditions such as dorsal displacement of the soft palate that may only be manifested under extreme exercise levels (Lane et al 2006). More severe grades of laryngeal hemiplegia may be easily recognized at rest, but lower grades and many other conditions that may limit performance, may not. Dynamic endoscopy has recently been reported in the diagnosis palatal instability, axial deviation of the aryepiglottic folds, changes in epiglottic conformation, dorsal displacement of the soft palate, ventral deviation of the corniculate process of the arytenoid cartilages, and dorsorostral development of the dorsal laryngeal mucosa (Pollock et al 2009, Priest et al 2012, Compostella 2012, Pollock et. al 2013, Allen and Franklin 2013) It has also been observed that degree of head flexion can subsequently lead to dynamic airway obstruction both in trotters and in riding horses (Van Erck 2011 ). A recent study performed in 72 Thoroughbred yearlings observed the difference in findings between resting and dynamic overground endoscopy (Allen and Franklin 2013). Not surprisingly the latter enabled diagnosis of various abnormalities causing airway obstruction occurring only during exercise supporting the benefits of this technique. In this study dorsal displacement of the soft palate was correlated with upper-airway/pharyngeal inflammation. Recently dynamic overground endoscopy use has increased markedly, leading to a greater knowledge of the structures involved in upper airway malfunction. However, the pattern of progression of these problems in young racehorses is unknown. A study using dynamic endoscopy of a group of horses during training preparation period is lacking, would give further insight into the progression of airway problems in racehorses, and may allow for earlier intervention by the trainer and his/her veterinarian ..

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C. Riley
2014
$132,360

Infrared-based serum biomarkers for the early detection of osteoarthritis in horses

Abstract: The early diagnosis, prevention, and management of joint disease are priorities for the New Zealand performance horse. There are advances in molecular, genetic and other serum and synovial fluid biomarkers for the prediction, early diagnosis and staging of musculoskeletal disease in horses, but they have not generally translated into routine use. Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) of joint fluid is a sensitive and specific biomarker method for the diagnosis of traumatic arthritis and osteochondrosis, requiring only a few drops of fluid. It is an economic, rapid and potentially accurate tool that has been shown to have potential in equine joint disease. Our program aims to develop FTIR as a practical, economic and method for the routine screening of competitive horses for the early detection of joint disease. A proof of concept study in rabbits with osteoarthritis, has demonstrated the potential to detect arthritis with the FTIR analysis of serum. Our objective is to develop this for the performance horse. We will study arthritis in young Thoroughbreds using an internationally accepted approach, and compare samples by infrared analysis to identify serum FTIR-based biomarkers to predict osteoarthritis, from early to chronic disease, over 70 days. The findings will be translated for use with trainers and owners, to monitor their racehorses in training and racing for early indications of joint disease.