RASE Equine Thesis Award Winners 2010 – 2011

Equine Obesity Highlighted as Lisa Randle wins the RASE Eqvalan Duo Equine Thesis of the Year Award 2011

Lisa Randle, a Warwickshire college distance learning student, has won the prestigious Eqvalan Duo Equine Thesis of the Year Award 2011. Lisa’s work highlighted a nationwide problem with equine obesity. The purpose of the study was to identify the relationship between equine body condition score and the incidence of health issues.

The study found owners perceived overweight horses to be of ‘normal’ weight, highlighting that some owners tend to have an apparent misperception of the correct body condition for their animals. This indicates that there may be instances where obesity in horses is not recognised which can compromise the health and welfare of the animal. There is a need for an easier way for owners to assess whether their horse is overweight to be developed to ensure that steps are taken to manage horse weight, along with consequent health benefits. Lisa hopes that the findings of her research will benefit horse health.

Lisa beat off stiff competition from four other students, all of whom had to present their thesis to a panel of five judges; Dr Emma Batson (Merial Animal Health), Rachael Conwell (EquiMed Referrals Ltd), Dr Georgina Crossman (BEFRED), Jan Rogers (Head of Equine Development, British Equestrian Federation) and Rachel Kay (Nottingham Trent University).

The 2011 runner-up was Bill Chapman from Moulton College with his thesis entitled A Comparison of the Efficacy of Pre-loading versus Re-loading Electrolyte Supplementation in Novice Competition Horses. The remaining finalists were Caryl Ffion Marks from Hartpury College who investigated the risk factors for horse falls in steeplechase races at Cheltenham racecourse, Christine Hills from Writtle College with her research into  grazing limb preference and equine biomechanics, and Eoin O’Brien from the University of Limerick who analysed pre-purchase veterinary certificates for sport horses in Ireland.

First Male Winner of the RASE Eqvalan Duo Equine Thesis of the Year Award 2010

Declan Ryan made history by becoming the first male winner of the coveted Eqvalan Duo Equine Thesis of the Year Award. His thesis entitled ‘Haematological Parameters in Thoroughbred Horses’ was selected from research theses submitted to the RASE by UK and Irish Universities.

Declan, a graduate of the University of Limerick, proved that sex and age have an effect on certain blood parameters in Irish thoroughbred (TB) horses. Using data collected over five years at the Irish Equine Centre in Naas, Co Kildare, Declan whittled down 37,254 blood tests to a sample set of 435 from which he was able to generate a set of normal parameters for Irish TBs. His research highlighted significant differences between the level of platelets in the blood of foals and adult horses, and levels of haematological components such as potassium, protein and globulin in the blood of male and female horses. The resulting range of ‘normal’ values for healthy horses is useful for assessing the haematological profile of poorly performing animals.

Declan currently works in California with racehorse trainer Bruce Hedley and aims to return to Ireland to train National Hunt racehorses in the future.

Declan beat off competition from three other finalists with his thesis which was presented to a panel of five judges: Dr Emma Batson (Merial Animal Health), Jan Rogers (British Equestrian Federation), Dr Georgina Crossman (BEFRED), Nicky Moffatt (Horse & Rider magazine) and Rachel Kay (Nottingham Trent University).

The 2010 runner-up was Rebecca Mundy from Writtle College, whose research project investigated recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis and possible dietary risk factors for the condition in Irish Thoroughbred horses during her sandwich year at Dodson and Horrell Horse Feed Specialists. The remaining finalists were Kelly Dinwiddy from Hartpury College who presented her research into the effect of dental correction on the faecal particle size of horses, and Jessica Putnam from the University of Nottingham who investigated the incidence, causes, outcomes and risk factors associated with equine lameness in a working horse population.