Apr 02, 2023

Equine Medical Research Final Report: Working Toward a Genetic Test for Heart Arrhythmias

RESULTS: Researchers record higher than reported incidence of atrial fibrillation in Standardbred racehorses.

Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers from the University of Minnesota are investigating if genetic variants can help identify horses at high risk of developing potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Cardiac arrhythmias are thought to be an important cause of sudden death in horses during exercise. Most horses that develop arrhythmias have no underlying structural heart disease, making it challenging to detect animals that may succumb to the condition.

Studies in human athletes with arrhythmias, but with no underlying structural heart disease, show the condition is almost exclusively caused by genetic variants. Building on this knowledge, researchers identified 36 variants in a small number of Standardbred racehorses with atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm). These variants are in genes known to cause arrhythmias in people. The team is testing if these variants are associated with arrhythmias in a larger group of Standardbred racehorses.

Early data showed that 2% of Standardbred racehorses in the study had an arrhythmia (second degree atrioventricular block or intermittent sinoatrial arrest) at rest that is considered normal in fit and healthy horses. About 5% of racehorses also had a history of or were in atrial fibrillation, which is the most common arrhythmia known to negatively affect performance. This is higher than the previously reported frequency of atrial fibrillation (0.14%) in racing Standardbreds.

DNA analysis of samples is ongoing to determine which variants are associated with cardiac arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation. If successful, the team will use this information to develop genetic tests that will become part of screening protocols to help with early identification of horses at increased risk of developing arrhythmias, with the goal of reducing sudden cardiac death in horses. Increased monitoring of horses at high risk of sudden cardiac death will improve our understanding about why certain horses die unexpectedly during and after exercise and may lead to strategies to prevent sudden cardiac death in racehorses.

Thank you, United States Eventing Association, for your generous sponsorship of this study!

Dec 03, 2023 Profile

Now On Course: Scott Closes Out the Season on a High with a Special Mare

As they hiked through the Galway Irish countryside, Shelley Bridges and John Whelpley soon found themselves amid a herd of curious Irish Draught mares grazing calmly around them. Bridges, an endurance rider extraordinaire with a well-known, educated eye for all things horse, noticed one of the mares in particular and said, “What about that one?” and our unlikely story began.

Dec 02, 2023 Education

Four Ways to Prep for Your 2024 Eventing Season

With the holiday spirit in full swing and the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to get ready for the 2024 eventing season. From paperwork to packing, there’s quite a bit to do before you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the season with your horse. Check out these tips from the team at STRIDER, and get your 2024 season kicked off in the most organized way possible.

Dec 01, 2023 Eventing News

USEF Announces 2024 Eventing Pathway Program Lists

The U.S. Equestrian Federation is pleased to announce the Eventing Pathway Program Lists for 2024, including the Elite, Pre-Elite, Development, and Emerging Programs. In addition to these Eventing Pathway Program updates, several opportunities will be available in 2024 for both Program and non-Program athletes.

Dec 01, 2023 Instructors

2024 ECP Symposium to Be Held at the Florida Horse Park on Jan. 30-Feb. 1

The United States Eventing Associations’ (USEA) Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) is pleased to announce the dates and location of the upcoming 2024 ECP Symposium. The annual ECP Symposium, which is held in the southeast to accommodate the migration of eventers for the winter season, will be hosted at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Florida, on Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 2024. This three-day immersive educational experience is recommended for anyone who is interested in learning more about eventing coaching, including current coaches, riders, parents, owners or avid supporters. Click here to download the registration form today!

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