Equine Science Update
Reports from the world of  equine research.
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The ninth Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Seminar, held at Cheltenham Racecourse, saw a panel of top equine researchers and vets cover a range of key issues and current hot topics.

Professor Jose Vazquez-Boland from the University of Edinburgh, reviewed the progress of a study to determine the genome sequencing of Rhodococcus equi with a view towards a deeper understanding of the microbe, which causes severe respiratory disease in foals.

Examining equine droppings might not appeal to everyone; however, to Professor Jacqui Matthews such samples provide a wealth of material from which to study equine anthelmintic resistance. Resistance is detected against all three available drug classes and currently no new equine anthelmintics are under development, so it is vital to retain the efficacy of these products for as long as possible.

Disease control, prevention and cure featured strongly on the agenda with a presentation from Arik Dondi of Defra on the latest control measures in place and our preparedness for an outbreak of infectious disease.

The recent outbreak of contagious equine metritis (CEM) in the USA made the contribution by Chris Rea of the Horserace Betting Levy Board Veterinary Advisory Committee  particularly relevant. He discussed changes made to the Codes of Practice in the light of the outbreak. He illustrated how effective the Codes have been and how they play a vital role in the control of infectious diseases in horses. (A copy of the Codes of Practice is available from the HBLB.)

In the final presentation of the morning session, Holly Claridge described work she carried out as an undergraduate project at the Royal Veterinary College. She used CT scans to investigate the anatomy of the articular process joints in the neck and to what extent they might compress the spinal-cord if they were damaged or inflamed.

A more unusual reason for poor performance is the possibility that horses might suffer jetlag.  Dr Domingo Tortonese studied the effects of changes in daylight on the daily rhythms of locomotion, body temperature and hormone secretions in horses and described how his findings show that horses are extremely sensitive to light, leading to important implications for the training and transport of racehorses across time zones.

Performance inhibiting issues came under scrutiny with an investigation by Dr Richard Piercy into muscle damage, diagnosis and cure. He considered the possibility that some animals might have an underlying genetic predisposition to exercise induced muscle damage precipitated by an environmental or management factors such as diet or stress.

While the signs of poor performance or lameness may often be obvious, identifying the underlying cause is often far from straightforward.  Professor Stephen May of the Royal Veterinary College examined the importance of diagnostic imaging, the systems available and how best to use them and interpret the results.

The Seminar, first held in 2001, is supported by the Horse Race Betting Levy Board, Cheltenham Racecourse and Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health.  

For those who were unable to attend, a copy of the handbook is available from R&W Communications, Suites 3 and 4 Kings Court, Willie Snaith Road, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7SG at a cost of £10.
Published online 22.11.09.
© Copyright Equine Science Update  2009
Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Seminar
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