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Ontario Equestrian Donates over $30,000 to ResearchJanuary 2019

Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Alone we can do so little but together we are so much stronger.

Ontario Equestrian and its members are helping strengthen research programs aimed at improving health and welfare of horses. With $1.50 per OE membership allocated to the Ontario Equestrian Member Equine Research Fund, this year’s cheque presented at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair came out to just over $30,000!

On November 2, 2018, in the main arena at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, the Vice-President of Ontario Equestrian, Peter Chiddy presented the annual cheque to Dr. Jeff Wichtel, Professor and Dean of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC)

Ontario Equestrian President, Mark Nelson and Vice President, Peter Chiddy are thrilled the cheque for $30,700.00 brings the two-year research total to $59,300.00.

In 2017, instead of spending $1.50 on the production of plastic membership cards, the $1.50 per Ontario Equestrian member was directed to Equine Guelph, to fund a research topic voted on by the membership annually. “It is with great pride that your Provincial Sport Organization has committed to an annual grant for equine research in Ontario to better support our beloved equine athletes,” says Tracey McCague-McElrea, Executive Director at Ontario Equestrian.

In 2017, members voted to support research on equine digestive health. Two researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College are studying “what is normal” concerning inhabitants in the equine gut. Once this is known, the future becomes exciting with the possibilities of restoration of normal microbiota which play critical roles in nutrition, metabolism, and a wide range of other functions required for health.

OVC researcher Dr. Luis Arroyo says, “I am deeply grateful for their support of this research program and the investment to this devastating equine illness, colitis.” Arroyo is setting up a simulated gut, fondly called “RoboGut, by many, to help understand what a healthy horse microbiome looks like.

“It is not always easy to find money for studies establishing fundamental baselines,” says Weese, “but this funding from Ontario Equestrian is so important so we can have confidence in our interpretations for future disease studies.”

Weese is analyzing fecal samples from healthy horses over the course of a year. The goals are to learn if the microbiota are impacted by seasonal changes, gain insight on different diets and how they affect the microbial population and study composition versus function of microbiota.

"Ontario Equestrian has been a long-time and valued partner with Equine Guelph and we have joined in many partnership programs that support horse health, welfare and safety. This research funding, is a great addition to the Equine Guelph research program at the University of Guelph and will build on existing areas of expertise at the University in support of horse health” says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. “Many thanks to OE and it’s members!”

Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole.

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Ontario Equestrian represents more than 22,000 individual members who come from all sectors of the horse industry. The membership base includes professionals, amateurs, competitors and recreational enthusiasts of all ages and disciplines. OE is committed to horse welfare and providing leadership and support to the individuals, associations and industries in Ontario's horse community. Ontario Equestrian is proud to support their members with athlete, coach and officials’ programs, industry member benefits and the exceptional insurance coverage each year.