top of page

RESEARCH

Equine Nutrition Research
Research is the foundation of the work carried out by Equine Consulting Services.  

Some of our current and prior research projects include the following...

BODY COMPOSITION OF THOROUGHBRED RACEHORSES

 

Fat free mass (FFM) has been reported in human subjects to be related to an individual’s athletic ability.  As FFM is indicative of muscle mass and potential muscle strength, it has been suggested that FFM be used to evaluate racing capabilities in horses (Kearns et al., 2002; Fonseca et al., 2013).  In our current study, percentage bodyfat is being assessed in relation to various factors including sex, age and race distance.  The work is ongoing.

NUTRITIONAL CAUSES OF OCD IN GROWING FOALS

 

Equine Consulting Services was part of a group that received a major grant from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) to study the role of insulin and glucose in Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) in Thoroughbred foals.  Previous studies identified nutritional factors which influence the incidence and/or severity of OCD. These included mineral deficiencies, excesses and imbalances (e.g. inadequate levels of phosphorus, calcium, zinc and copper in the diet to support the rate of growth); rapid growth and excessive weight-bearing and other biomechanical stresses on bones and joints; and feeding diets excessive in energy and protein. More recent work has implicated insulin in the disease due to its role in chondrocyte maturation but studies are scarce. 

 

Few studies had evaluated the contribution of the mare’s ration to the incidence of skeletal disease in growing foals and little is known about the metabolic changes that occur during pregnancy and how this may play a role in the prevalence of OCD.  This project entitled “Insulin dynamics during equine pregnancy – possible relationship to osteochondrosis in foals” was conducted in collaboration with the University of Queensland and several Hunter Valley farms.  

 

A summary of the work can be found here: https://agrifutures.com.au/product/insulin-dynamics-during-equine-pregnancy-possible-relationship-to-osteochondrosis-in-foals/

 

EQUINE GASTRIC ULCER SYNDROME

A project with Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga was designed to study the effect of nutritional supplements on gastric ulceration in horses.  Initial work with one of the supplements has shown that the product may be associated with improved appetite, body condition score and faecal softening in affected horses.  All the products tested were in accordance with regulations in horse sports and racing codes. Improved treatment options, especially options which do not involve the administration of a prohibitive substance, are likely to result in more effective management of this condition and hence improved welfare of performance horses.  

 

The study has been published and can be found here:  https://doi.org/10.3920/JAAN2020.0011.

PROTEIN AND INSULIN RESISTANCE

Recent human studies suggest that the protein and amino acid composition of diets is an important factor in modulating the glucose/insulin axis. This aspect of insulin sensitivity has not been examined in horses. It would appear relevant as most equine diets contain an excess of dietary protein. We have also been involved in a project conducted at the School of Animal Studies, University of Queensland to examine the influence of dietary protein level on the glucose/insulin axis in the horse in response to feeding of diets low in non-structural carbohydrates (https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:237804). 

JOCKEY HEALTH AND SAFETY PROJECT

Equine Consulting Services has also been involved in a national review of jockey health and safety, a collaborative effort between Racing NSW, Racing Victoria Limited and Racing and Wagering Western Australia.  The work involved the review and analysis of stewards’ reports and insurance claim data for over a twelve year period as part of several projects which examined the significance of injuries to jockeys in Australia and the effectiveness of currently available and alternative protective equipment for riders.  The work was part of a comprehensive project which reviewed all aspects of jockey health and safety including jockey nutrition, riding techniques and track facilities. 

 

The full publication can be accessed here: https://agrifutures.com.au/product/health-and-safety-in-australian-horse-racing/

 

EVALUATION OF SAFETY VESTS: HEALTH AND SAFETY IN RACING

 

In further work funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation riding vests were evaluated as a means of preventing or lessening the severity of injuries amongst jockeys in Australia.  All vests were tested during the project, with one widely used vest failing testing requirements.  As a result of this work, the Australian Racing Board immediately implemented a quality assurance surveillance system to ensure vests currently used in racing are continuing to meet the safety standard.  

 

The full report can be accessed here:  https://agrifutures.com.au/publications-resources/publications/?fwp_rural-industries=hor&fwp_per_page=64&fwp_sort=date_desc

EQUINE RESPIRATORY DISEASE

Epidemiological studies of Equine Herpesviruses 1 and 4 (EHV-1 and EHV-4) and antibody responses to a subunit vaccine (Department of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney): Research included an epidemiological analysis of EHV-1 and EHV-4 in the Hunter Valley and investigation of the efficacy of the currently available vaccine by examining the antibody response to vaccination in mares and foals.
Evaluating equine immune responses to new Equine Herpesvirus 1 vaccine candidates (Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University):  Research included the evaluation of the efficacy of a new vaccine against EHV-1 in mares and very young foals.  The above projects were both funded by RIRDC.

 

The full report can be accessed here: https://agrifutures.com.au/product/evaluating-equine-immune-responses-to-new-ehv-1-vaccine-candidates/

PUBLICATIONS

Anderson, S. T., Cawdell-Smith, A. J., Song, X., Foote, C. E., Boston, R. C., and Bryden, W. L. (2015). Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) in the mare. 8th International Congress of Farm Animal Endocrinology, Billund, Denmark, 27-29 August 2015. Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture.

 

Anderson, S. T., Song, X., Cawdell-Smith, A. J., Foote, C. E., Boston, R. C., and Bryden, W. L. (2014). Pregnant mares within insulin resistance and beta cell failure continue to exhibit glucose intolerance and diminished insulin responses in a subsequent pregnancy. 5th Australasian Equine Science Symposium, Gold Coast, QLD Australia, 18-20 July 2014.

 

Anderson, S. T., Cawdell-Smith, A. J., Foote, C. E., Boston, R. C., and Bryden, W. L. (2013). Insulin resistance and beta cell failure in late pregnant mares with a low body condition score. 2013 ESS Symposium Equine Science Society, Mescalero, NM, USA, 28-31 May, 2013. Maryland Heights, MO, United States: W.B. Saunders.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2013.03.069

 

Anderson, S. T., Song, X., Velez Aramburo, M. E., Bartels, R., Cawdell-Smith, A. J ., Foote, C. E., Boston, R. C., and Bryden, W. L. (2012). Mares of lower body condition score exhibit marked insulin resistance and reduced insulin secretion in late gestation. 4th Australasian Equine Science Symposium, Gold Coast , Australia, 13-15 June 2012. Gatton, Australia: The University of Queensand, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

 

Anderson, S. T., John, S., Dobbs, T. N., Foote, C. E., Cawdell-Smith, A. J., and Bryden, W. L. (2012). Hormonal phenotypes of thoroughbred yearlings with osteochondrosis. 4th Australasian Equine Science Symposium, Gold Coast, Australia, 13-15 June 2012. Gatton, Australia: The University of Queensand, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

 

Dobbs, T.N., Foote, C.E., Cawdell-Smith, A.J., Anderson, S.T., Boston, R.C., Bryden, W.L. (2011) Glucose and insulin dynamics in neonatal foals: Influence of maternal diet.  2011 Equine Science Society Meeting.


Dobbs, T.N., Foote, C.E., Cawdell-Smith, A.J., Anderson, S.T., Bryden, W.L. (2011) Fasting insulin status and OCD occurrence in Thoroughbred yearlings.  2011 Equine Science Society Meeting.


Barton, K.D., Foote, C.E., Cawdell-Smith, A.J., Anderson, S.T., Bryden, W.L. (2011) Dietary protein level and glucose and insulin dynamics in mature geldings.  2011 Equine Science Society Meeting.


Foote, C.E. (2010).  The nutritional value of Australian pastures for growing and breeding Thoroughbreds. Proceedings of the Australian Equine Science Symposium, p60.


Dobbs, T.N., Foote, C.E., Cawdell-Smith, A.J., Bryden, W.L., Anderson, S. (2010).  Glucose and insulin dynamics of the gestating mare and foal.  Proceedings of the Australian Equine Science Symposium, p28.


Dobbs, T.N., Foote, C.E., Cawdell-Smith, A.J., Bryden, W.L., Anderson, S. (2010).  The relationship between insulin status and the occurrence of OCD in Thoroughbred yearlings.  Proceedings of the Australian Equine Science Symposium, p36.

 

Barton, K.D., Foote, C.E., Cawdell-Smith, A.J., Boston, R.C., Bryden, W.L. (2010).  Equine insulin dynamics and dietary protein.  Proceedings of the Australian Equine Science Symposium, p34.


Foote, C., McIntosh, A., V’Landys, P., Bulloch, K. (2010).  Health and Safety in Autralian Racing.  RIRDC Publication 10-067 (https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/10-067).


Foote, C.E. and Saxon, J. (2008). Jockey injuries in Australian Thoroughbred Horse Racing.  Proceedings of the Australian Equine Science Symposium, p 21.


Foote, C.E. (2006). Nutritional evaluation of the feeding regimens used by Australian Thoroughbred Racehorse trainers. Proceedings of the Australian Equine Science Symposium, p 49.


Foote, C. E., Raidal, S. L., Pecenpetelovska, G., Wellington, J. E., Whalley, J. M. (2006).  Inoculation of mares and very young foals with EHV-1 glycoproteins D and B reduces virus shedding following respiratory challenge with EHV-1.  Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 111, 97-108.


Foote, C. E., Love, D. N., Gilkerson, J. R., Wellington, J. E., Whalley, J. M. (2006).  EHV-1 and EHV-4 infection in vaccinated mares and their foals.  Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology,111, 41-46.


Weerasinghe, C. U, Learmonth, G. S., Gilkerson, J. R., Foote, C. E., Wellington, J. E., Whalley, J. M. (2006).  Equine herpesvirus 1 glycoprotein D expressed in E. coli provides partial protection against equine herpesvirus infection in mice and elicits virus-neutralizing antibodies in the horse. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology,111, 59-66.

 

Slater, J. D., Lunn, D. P., Horohov, D. W., Antczak, D. F., Babiuk, L., Breathnach, C., Chang, Y.-W., Davis-Poynter, N., Edington,, N., Ellis, S., Foote, C., Goehring, L., Kohn, C. W., Kydd, J., Matsumura, T., Minke, J., Morley, P., Mumford, J., Neubauer, T., O’Callaghan, D., Osterrieder, K., Reed, S., Smith, K., Townsend, H., van der Meulen, K., Whalley, M., and Wilson, W. D. (2006). Report of the equine herpesvirus-1 Havermeyer Workshop, San Gimignano, Tuscany, June 2004. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 111 (1-2) 3-13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetimm.2006.01.004


Whalley, J.M., Foote, C.E., Raidal, S. (2005) Evaluating equine immune responses to new EHV-1 vaccine candidates.  RIRDC Publication No 05/083.


Foote, C. E., Love, D. N., Gilkerson, J. R., Rota, J., Trevor-Jones, P., Ruitenberg, K. M., Wellington, J. E., Whalley, J. M. (2005). Serum antibody responses to equine herpesvirus 1 glycoprotein D in horses, including pregnant mares and young foals. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 105, 47-57.


Foote, C. E., Love, D. N., Gilkerson, J. R., Whalley, J. M. (2004).  Detection of EHV-1 and EHV-4 DNA in unweaned Thoroughbred foals from vaccinated mares on a large stud farm.  Equine Veterinary Journal, 36, 341-345.


Foote, C. E., Gilkerson, J. R., Whalley, J. M., Love, D. N. (2003).  Seroprevalence of equine herpesvirus 1 in mares and foals on a large Hunter Valley stud farm in years pre- and post- vaccination.  Australian Veterinary Journal 81, 283-288.


Whalley, J. M., Foote, C. E., Love, D. N., Gilkerson, J. R. (2003).  Investigations of equine herpesvirus 1 cycle of infection in foals.  Publication No. W03/006  


Foote, C. E., Love, D. N., Gilkerson, J. R., & Whalley, J. M. (2002). Serological responses of mares and weanlings following vaccination with an inactivated whole virus equine herpesvirus 1 and equine herpesvirus 4 vaccine Veterinary Microbiology 88, 13-25.


Foote, C. E., Love, D. N., Gilkerson, J. R., Whalley, J. M. (2001). Serological responses of mares and weanlings following vaccination with an inactivated whole virus Equine Herpesvirus 1 and Equine Herpesvirus 4 vaccine. Australian Equine Veterinarian 19, 68-69.


Gilkerson, J. R., Foote, C. E., Love, D. N., Whalley, J. M. (2001). Epidemiology of Equine Herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1). Australian Equine Veterinarian 19, 70.

 

Foote, C., Hosking, B., Gaughan, J.B., Riley, J.E. (1999).  Dietary manipulation using AUSPIG to optimise pig production.  Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition in Australia 15th Symposium, Armidale, NSW, 12-14 July 1999. UNE, Armidale, NSW: Department of Animal Science.

SYMPOSIUM PRESENTATIONS

“The relationship between insulin status and OCD occurrence in Thoroughbred yearlings”.  The Australian Equine Science Symposium, Gold Coast, 2010.


“The nutritional value of pastures for growing and breeding Thoroughbreds”.  The Australian Equine Science Symposium, Gold Coast, 2010.


“Jockey injuries in Australian Thoroughbred Horse racing”.  The Australian Equine Science Symposium, Gold Coast, 2008.


“Epidemiology of EHV-1 infection in vaccinated populations on a large Thoroughbred stud farm” and “Antibody responses to EHV-1 glycoprotein D in horses including pregnant mares and young foals”.  Dorothy Havemeyer Foundation workshop on equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), Tuscany , Italy, July 2004


“Detection of EHV-1 and EHV-4 DNA in unweaned Thoroughbred foals from vaccinated mares on a large stud farm”. Presentation and abstract at British Equine Veterinary Association Congress, Birmingham, England, 2003


“Serological responses of mares and weanlings following vaccination with an inactivated whole virus equine herpesvirus 1 and equine herpesvirus 4 vaccine”.  Presentation, poster and paper at the 24th Bain-Fallon Memorial Lectures, 2002


“EHV-1: A continued cycle of infection”.  Presentation at Intervet sponsored Research Day, Sydney University Vet Week, 2002.


“Serological responses of mares and weanlings following vaccination with an inactivated whole virus equine herpesvirus 1 and equine herpesvirus 4 vaccine”.  Presentation and paper in Proceedings of the International Horse Industry Symposium, Sydney, 2001

bottom of page