Research at CSU Equine Centre
Dr Glenys Noble BAppSci PhD
Equine research has been gaining momentum at the Equine Centre since 1997, with a wide variety of projects completed. Many form the basis of students' honours, Masters or PhD studies, while others are instigated by industry, whether it be product testing and efficacy or through projects funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).
Areas of research include the detection of prohibited substances for the racing industry, stallion infertility and freezing of semen, calculation of digestibility in the horse, factors affecting rate of intake of rations, efficacy of calmatives, anthelmintic efficacy and resistance, interaction between diet and behaviour in normal and stereotypic horses, development of objective behaviour testing, measurement of metabolic and reproductive hormones, mechanisms that trigger laminitis, performance inheritability in horses and retention times of therapeutic drugs. CSU maintains a herd of horses to support our research activities.
Much of our research has been presented at conferences both in Australia and overseas, the most recent being the Australian Equine Science Symposium, held in June 2006 at the Gold Coast. Students and staff from CSU contributed to six presentations, a comparable presence to that of the long-established east coast universities. Current and planned research projects are described below.
Investigating the role of impaired glucose uptake in laminitis
Our aim in this study is to understand the mechanisms that control glucose uptake in the hoof, then identify the factors associated with endocrine and metabolic abnormalities that lead to impaired glucose uptake, tissue starvation and laminitis.
This RIRDC-funded research has already made some ground-breaking discoveries into the causes of laminitis. It has shown that laminitis can be induced in healthy young ponies with no prior history of laminitis, by maintaining prolonged high insulin levels while still maintaining normal glucose levels. A role for insulin in the pathogenesis of laminitis has been discovered. Detection and control of clinical hyperinsulinaemia may facilitate management of endocrinopathic laminitis.
The synchronisation of oestrus and ovulation in the mare
Dr Scott Norman
Currently there are no practically useful techniques to synchronise oestrus and ovulation in the mare. Ovulation synchronisation is essential if artificial breeding technologies such as frozen semen AI, embryo transfer, and oocyte transfer are to become efficient and reliably successful procedures. The overall aim of this project, funded by RIRDC in the 2007-2008 round, is to develop a novel and practical protocol for the synchronisation of oestrus and ovulation in the mare.
Determining reliable excretion rates for therapeutic drugs in horses
The Australian horse industry is among the largest in the world, with thousands of horses competing each year in flat racing, harness racing and equestrian events. Illness and training injuries are common, but there is uncertainty about excretion and detection times for many therapeutic drugs. This can place in peril the horse's welfare, the reputation of the owner or trainer and the integrity of the sport. This situation is unnecessary, and the 21st century stakeholders in such a valuable industry deserve access to the highest quality information. This project, also funded by RIRDC in 2007-2008, aims to examine up to 18 therapeutic drugs selected from those identified as the most important from a health, welfare and integrity standpoint to determine much more reliable drug excretion times and for the first time demonstrate the variability among horses