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Fractures of the lower limbs are a major welfare concern in horses, and early exercise may be one way to help reduce the risk of these injuries. Researchers will evaluate the long-term effects of an eight-week long, moderately strenuous exercise intervention in young foals (prior to being weaned). Bone properties, including density and volume, will be measured serially in exercised and non-exercised foals using computed tomography. Additional data will be gathered using mechanical testing of previously collected bone samples from young foals that died of natural causes. All data will be combined into a computer model to help predict the effects of a variety of exercise interventions on bone properties without having to test them in live horses. Findings will help inform the development of evidence-based exercise recommendations for young foals to help promote healthy bone development and reduce the risk of fractures later in life.

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University of Illinois
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United States
Annette McCoy, DVM, PhD
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