Equine veterinarians believe that the musculoskeletal system, laminitis and horse-side laboratory tests are research and funding priorities, according to a new study by the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Foundation.
The 2009 AAEP Membership Equine Research Study assessed the opinions of AAEP members regarding priorities in equine health care and research. The aim is to assist the equine industry in directing its financial support of equine research projects. The last similar study was conducted in 2003.
“The 2009 AAEP Membership Equine Research Study is a valuable tool in determining where the industry should direct support for equine research in the future,” said Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, Ph.D., chair of the AAEP Foundation. “With this updated study, the industry is able to identify the areas of equine research important to veterinarians, thus enhancing the industry’s ability to make important decisions as to where time and resources should be directed to help horses through research.”
The survey was sent to 6,717 members via email with the survey to be completed online. AAEP received 572 responses.
About 88 percent of respondents practice in the United States, with another 6 percent in Canada and the remaining percentage practicing in other countries. Of the respondents, 46 percent said they had been in practice for more than 20 years while 25 percent had been in practice for 10-19 years and 29 percent had been in practice for less than 10 years.
The type of practice each member represented included pleasure horse (29 percent), performance horse (29 percent), racetrack (12 percent), other (16 percent), reproductive (9 percent), work/ranch horse (3 percent) and non-practicing (2 percent).
Study results indicate that the equine body systems of highest research priority are musculoskeletal (85 percent), gastrointestinal (82 percent), respiratory (74 percent), endocrine (67 percent) and nervous system (62 percent).
Respondents also ranked laminitis (63 percent), colic (52 percent), arthritis (49 percent), tendon injuries (44 percent) and navicular disease (36 percent) as the five priorities in the category of equine disease or condition.
Regarding new technologies that require more funding, respondents ranked horse-side laboratory tests (71 percent), regenerative medicine (64 percent), imaging (53 percent), genetic testing (39 percent) and vaccines (39 percent) as the most important.
The survey also evaluated members’ willingness to participate in research by recording data from specific types of case and control animals in their practice. About 71 percent of respondents were willing and 29 percent were not. The preferred method, according to the survey, would be website data entry (55 percent), computer data base (32 percent) and written data record sheet (13 percent).
The AAEP noted that it “will forward its findings to the United States Department of Agriculture for its use in prioritizing equine research on a national level and evaluating the necessary financial appropriations to those projects.”