LAMINITIS RESEARCH PROJECT AT THE AHT
In partnership with the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and generously funded by World Horse Welfare, we are undertaking a new web-based research project that aims to help horse owners reduce the impact of equine laminitis.
The four-year study, being conducted by PhD student, Danica (Dee) Pollard, currently based at the Animal Health Trust, will take a closer look at management factors which may contribute to the development or recurrence of laminitis within the British horse and pony population. Through modifying these contributing factors, it is hoped that horse owners can significantly reduce the impact of this significant welfare problem.
This study follows on from previous research conducted by Dr Claire Wylie where factors including rapid weight gain, increasing time since last deworming, box rest in the previous week and new access to grass in the past month have been shown to increase the risk of laminitis in horses and ponies. Dr Wylie’s study also revealed that other factors such as transport in the previous week and the feeding of additional supplements were associated with a reduced risk of laminitis. These factors are of particular interest to our new study because they are all modifiable and can be changed by the owner.
How horse owners can help
Through the creation of a dedicated website, Dee will aim to recruit thousands of horse and pony owners throughout Britain, in order to get a representative sample of the population and allow application of the study results to real-life situations. Owners of any horse or pony, regardless of whether or not they have a history of laminitis, will be asked to register their animals and complete a baseline questionnaire. This will provide general information about their horse or pony as well as health and medical history; and their current management practices with regards to diet, exercise, turnout, etc.
Owners will subsequently be asked to log in once a month and complete a diary-like entry that will highlight any changes to the management routine of their animal(s). The registered cohort of animals will then be followed over a period of two years. The advantage of such a cohort study approach is that a timeline of events will be created, which will provide a clearer association between exposure to a potential laminitis risk factor and the development of the disease. It will also allow us to estimate the incidence of laminitis, which is why it is extremely important that both animals that will and will not develop the disease participate in the project.
Following horses that have never suffered from the disease and those that previously have had laminitis but have not had subsequent episodes since will be just as important as following those that currently do suffer from the disease.
Horse owners interested in taking part in the research project are asked to register their interest via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
*photo Copyright Royal Veterinary College