Experienced horse vet Elizabeth Finding hopes to identify in new research why some horses are more at risk than others of suffering from laminitis.
Finding has joined the International Laminitis Consortium to start her PhD on laminitis.
She will continue the essential search into why some horses and ponies are more at risk of laminitis than others.
Laminitis is well-recognised as a major, global welfare issue, causing pain and suffering in those affected.
Understanding why some individuals are more prone to this painful and potentially fatal condition than others has been one of the major goals of the consortium so that targeted preventative measures can be put in place.
Anecdotal information has suggested that there is often an increase in incidence in laminitis following a bout of cold, frosty weather.
Previous work undertaken at Britain’s Royal Veterinary College has suggested that temperature may influence the reactivity of certain blood vessels of the hoof.
As part of her four-year PhD project, Finding will be developing novel methods of assessing blood flow so that she can analyse changes associated with diet and season.
In addition, she will be comparing innovative markers of blood vessel health between those that are and are not prone to laminitis.
“We hypothesise that ponies prone to laminitis have a dysfunction of the cells lining the blood vessels (endothelial cells),” Finding says.
“This may make them less effective in generating mediators which normally continuously dilate blood vessels and thus protect against the blood vessel constriction.
“It is thought that abnormal constriction may be initiated by the ingestion of too much rich grass especially under adverse environmental conditions.”
The announcement that Finding was joining the consortium to undertake her research was announced this week by the Royal Veterinary College, together with research group Waltham, which leads the consortium.
The consortium comprises world-leading equine veterinary, nutrition and research experts interested in collaborating on the important topic of laminitis.