Ditching the plastic leads to $30,000 cheque for equine research

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Doing away with plastic membership cards has led to a Canadian equestrian organisation donating $30,000 to equine research this year.

In 2017, instead of spending $1.50 per member on the production of membership cards, Ontario Equestrian directed the funds to a research topic at Equine Guelph voted on by the membership.

A cheque for just over $30,700 was presented to the Ontario Equestrian Member Equine Research Fund at Canada’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair last month. It brings the two-year research total to $59,300.

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.

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

The in vitro "Robogut" at the University of Guelph.
The in vitro “Robogut” at the University of Guelph.

Fellow researcher Dr Scott Weese said it was It is not always easy to find money for studies establishing fundamental baselines.

“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.

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