$3m boost for Aust vet clinic’s equine lameness program

A horse undergoing a cardiac evaluation on a treadmill at U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre.
A horse undergoing a cardiac evaluation on a treadmill at U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre. © Melbourne Veterinary School

An Australian veterinary centre has received a gift of more than $3 million to develop its equine lameness prevention and diagnosis program.

The donation to U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre, from Loreto and Martin Hosking, will provide funding for a specialist clinician position at the centre. It will also provide start-up funding of $500,000 to relaunch the U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre as a specialist referral clinic in equine lameness and to promote it as a unique resource.

The U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre is a critically important program within the Melbourne Veterinary School. Recognised globally for its work in equine lameness prevention and diagnosis, this contribution will bring greater focus to the centre as a specialist referral clinic dedicated to these services for both performance and leisure horses and the racing industry.

Martin Hosking is a co-founder of Redbubble, a global online marketplace for print-on-demand products based on user-submitted artwork. Loreto Hosking said the couple recognised the importance of the research and clinical services the Equine Centre undertakes.

“It impacts the local community, the veterinary community, and the research and higher education sectors – as well as the horses we love and care for – so it was important to us to support this work and our community,” she said.

Research conducted at the Equine Centre builds a catalogue of knowledge and clinical techniques that has the potential to benefit the wellbeing of performance and leisure horses and racehorses alike.

Highlights of its research output to date include identifying the types of exercise most damaging to bones and joints, the need to adapt the equine skeleton to the work it has to do and the benefit of periods of rest from high-intensity training.

Its next phase of research, funded by Racing Victoria, will explore new methods for assessing injury indicators in a horse’s stride, develop software for assessing limb injury risk in real-time, and improving diagnostic imaging methods.

The program aims to deliver direct benefit to the Australian equestrian industry while changing the face of equine health and welfare, including the role that research and evidence play in animal health more broadly.

The Equine Centre provides the most advanced imaging and diagnostic equipment available, including radiology, ultrasound, scintigraphy, standing limb and head CT, and high field MRI. Its standing CT system – which allows horses to be imaged standing, under sedation, without the need for anaesthesia – is the first of its kind in Australia and only the third in the world.

Head of the Melbourne Veterinary School Professor Anna Meredith said that the Equine Centre has a long and rich history of conducting groundbreaking and high-impact collaborative research and development, which has resulted in significant improvements to equine health.

Meredith said the gift from the Hoskings would allow the Equine Centre to expand its services to performance and leisure horses, and thereby serve a larger portion of the equine community in Victoria.

In March, Loreto and Martin Hosking established a Contemplative Studies Centre within the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences with a gift of $10 million.


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