Plantation Field Horse Trials Hosts United States Eventing Association Equine Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research Study
RELEASE: October 21, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By the United States Eventing Association
Plantation Field Horse Trials in Unionville, PA, was the host site for the preliminary phase of the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Equine Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research Study over the weekend of September 18-20. The USEA Equine Safety Task Force headed by Drs. Kent Allen and Catherine Kohn and a team of eminent veterinarians and human cardiologists carried out the study on the horses competing in the CIC*** division.
Task force member, Mark Hart, MD, visited every stall and explained the details of the study and its importance in terms of equine welfare. Thanks to him, riders and owners were reassured and cooperated fully by allowing their horses to be instrumented with heart rhythm monitoring devices during the cross-country phase. Almost 100% of CIC*** riders participated in the some phase of the study. To maintain complete anonymity and confidentiality, horses were given random numbers. However, for those individuals who specifically wanted information on their own horses, arrangements were made for a private consultation.
Competition Directors Denis Glaccum and Sarah Connell not only allowed the USEA to conduct the study at Plantation Field, but also assisted fully in providing the necessary tents and access to the stabling and cross-country course, enabling the veterinarians to work on the horses under optimum conditions. The FEI ground jury support was also very much appreciated.
Using extremely sophisticated GE Vivid portable scanners, all CIC*** horses had cardiac ultrasounds and lung scans following their dressage rides on Friday and nine were fitted with the Televet monitoring devices as they were being tacked up for cross-country on Saturday morning. Immediately after completing the cross-country horse, each of these nine horses had the instruments removed and the data was promptly downloaded into computers. The number of horses in this portion of the study was limited only by the number of monitoring devices on hand. Individual veterinarians had loaned their own equipment to the project, and the USEA is extremely grateful to them for their generosity in making these extremely valuable units available for the study.
In addition to the horses fitted with Televets in the CIC***, all horses in each CIC division and the advanced horse trials division had ECGs at baseline and immediately post cross-country and again, the USEA thanks the riders and owners for their complete cooperation.
The purpose of the preliminary study was to explore the feasibility of attaching devices and recording heart rhythms through the rigors of cross-country. The main question at hand was whether an adequate cardiac ultrasound could be performed within three minutes of finishing cross-country, and if so, were cardiac rhythm abnormalities present during or after cross country.
These preliminary data are now being comprehensively evaluated, and the USEA Equine Safety Task Force is already making plans for the next phase of the study. The ultimate goal is to assess the cardiopulmonary effects of a CCI**** on the horses and to identify factors that may influence their performance or safety issues. Again, it must be stressed that all information gathered is anonymous.
Of particular note is the interaction between members of the task forces involved in the other safety studies currently under way within the USEA and the USEF. John Staples and Reed Ayers, who head up the USEA’s GPS Speed Study, sent the GPS watches used in their study so that riders could wear them during their cross-country ride. The data obtained from the watches is being downloaded and analyzed and will be compared with the data received from the monitoring units worn by the horses. The University of Kentucky engineers who are working on the USEA/USEF Frangible Fence Technology Study are hoping that the data from the GPS Speed Study will assist them in determining the relationship between speed and force as it pertains to frangible fence construction.
The USEA would like to express great appreciation to all those who participated in this preliminary phase of the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research Study: Veterinarians: Catherine Kohn, VMD; Kent Allen, DVM; John Bonagura, DVM; Carol Clarke, DVM; Mary Durando, DVM; Ric Birk, DVM; Barbara Forney, DVM; Jo Slack, DVM; Stephanie Davis, DVM. Ultrasound specialist: Barbara Schiavo. Veterinary students: Laura Faulkner; Amy Santonastaso; Mary Robinson. Veterinary Technician: Angela Dion Human Cardiologists: Mark Hart, MD; Lynn Cronin, MD.
Without the generous donations made by USEA members, not to mention the numerous hours donated by the USEA Equine Safety Task Force and the veterinary team at Plantation Field, the USEA could not have undertaken this study. USEA would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all who made this study possible. This preliminary phase was just the beginning and veterinarians are hoping to gain more data during the CCI** and CCI*** at Fair Hill. USEA hopes that others will join in supporting the USEA’s efforts to protect event horses and the sport.