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Assessing orthopedic disease risk in young horses

Summary: Researchers will study biomechanical forces in different horse gaits as well as genetic risk factors associated with the development of osteochondrosis in Standardbred horses, a breed with high prevalence of OC lesions.

Description: Osteochondrosis is a common developmental orthopedic disease in young horses influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Investigators recently reported differences in both the frequency and location of OC lesions in the hocks (a hind limb joint) of Standardbred pacers and trotters. It is unknown if these differences are due to genetic risk, differences in biomechanical forces related to gait, or a combination of the two. Researchers will study OC hock lesions in a group of Standardbred pacer and trotter foals from birth to 1 year of age to determine if gait preference has an impact on lesion healing. Researchers also will evaluate several previously identified candidate genetic risk variants to determine if they are associated with OC in this group of horses. Defining the roles of genetic and biomechanical factors in OC development will facilitate early intervention and help reduce the risk of clinical disease in horses.


INVESTIGATOR: Annette M. McCoy, University of Illinois