Quarter horse charity gives $264K for equine research projects

The American Quarter Horse Foundation Board of Trustees has approved five research projects into horse health, and an additional 40,835 for a study into equine traumatic brain injury.
The American Quarter Horse Foundation Board of Trustees has approved five research projects into horse health, and an additional 40,835 for a study into equine traumatic brain injury. Photo by Jan Canty

The research arm of the American Quarter Horse Association’s charitable foundation has given more than $260,000 for five equine health research projects.

The Board of Trustees of the American Quarter Horse Foundation approved grant funding of $264,488.20 from its general research fund for the projects that were recommended by the Equine Research Committee:

  • “Characterizing Nasal T Cell Populations in Equine Herpesvirus Type 1 (EHV-1) Immune and Susceptible Horses” at Cornell University
  • “An EHV-1 mRNA-based Vaccine Delivered in Extracellular Vesicles” at Iowa State University
  • “Bile Acid Profiling of Pyloric Gastric Fluid and Serum in Horses with and without Equine Glandular Gastric Disease” at Louisiana State University
  • “Stress-induced Clodronate Release to Peak Exercise Training or Bone Insult following Repetitive Administration in Young Horses” at Montana State University
  • “Response of Healthy Joints to Intra-Articular Corticosteroids in Young, Exercising Horses” at Texas A&M University
Refrigerator's owners, from left, Jim and Marilyn Helzer.
Refrigerator’s owners, from left, Jim and Marilyn Helzer, with artist Lisa Perry at the dedication of the Refrigerator bronze ceremony at the Hall of Fame in 2007.

The board also approved grant funding from the Foundation’s Refrigerator Fund for Equine Head Trauma in the amount of $40,835 for “Three-dimensional Finite Element Simulations of Equine Traumatic Brain Injury following Trauma” at the University of Florida.

The fund is named for racehorse Refrigerator, who won 22 races and was voted racing world champion in 1992-93 and received eight other divisional titles.

He became the first sprinter to exceed $2 million in earnings when he finished second in the 1994 Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. Refrigerator was retired to the home of owner Jim Helzer in December 1995, and in 1999, at the age of 11, was in training for roping when he was involved in an accident and sustained a severe head injury. A few days later, Refrigerator was euthanized and buried at the Helzers’ JEH Stallion Station in Pilot Point, Texas.

The Helzers set up a program through the American Quarter Horse Foundation to raise funds to further the research on equine trauma, increasing awareness, information and technology for veterinarians and horse owners.

Refrigerator was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2000.

Funding for 2023-2024

Research proposals for the next funding cycle will focus on studies that improve knowledge for public benefit to advance the health, welfare and utility of the quarter horse. The Equine Research Committee will consider all proposals meeting this overarching goal, with special attention to the following areas of interest:

  • Equine welfare: discovery and detection of performance-enhancing drugs, masking agents, fitness parameters for competition, exercise physiology, training and factors of aging.
  • Genomics: detection of variants contributing to genetic disorders, detection of offspring from cloned animals, behavior, obesity, selective breeding practices and testing.
  • Infectious diseases: vaccination and testing for CEM, EHM, EIA and EVA.
  • Microbiome of the horse: metabolism, links to the immune system, management and feeds.
  • Nutrition: nutritional management, EMS and related diseases, supplements.


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