The Sport Horse Research Foundation

the Sport Horse Research Foundation

Awarded Grants & Research




Grantee: Pablo Espinosa-Mur, DVM, DACVS, DECVS
Year: 2018
Title: Radiographic and Ultrasonographic Findings of The Caudal Cervical Region in 105 Warmblood Jumpers
Status: In-progress

Cervical arthropathy in horses has been documented as a source of neck pain, stiffness, muscle atrophy, abnormal posture, poor performance, ataxia and lameness. Osteoarthritis (OA) at the cervical articular process is usually diagnosed with radiography, ultrasonography and nuclear scintigraphy. Osteoarthritis is a relatively common feature in sport horses. To the best of our knowledge, however, there are no reports in the literature describing the prevalence of cervical osteoarthritis in a normal population of sport horses. The main objective of this report was to report radiographic and ultrasonographic findings of the caudal cervical region in a population of sound and performing warmblood jumpers. Secondly, we studied the correlation between cervical facets OA seen on the radiographs and the presence of joint effusion and/or capsulitis on ultrasound. Finally, we determined the association between presence of OA, age and neck range of motion.


Grantee: Jennifer Symons, PhD
Year: 2018
Title: Comparing distal limb nuclear scinitgraphy of sport horses and racehorses
Status: Submitted for publication

Just like their human counterparts, equine athletes in all equestrian disciplines are susceptible to injury when training and competing. However, horses engage in different biomechanical tasks based on their discipline. For instance, sport horses in jumping and dressage are required to negotiate turns in both directions, as well as collect and extend their stride length. Conversely, American racehorses gallop with larger stride lengths in straight lines and left turns. Differences in biomechanical tasks likely contribute to differences in horse limb loading (force magnitude and direction), and ultimately sites of injury. The purpose of this study is to examine differences in sites and incidence of injury between horses of different disciplines, specifically sport horses and racehorses. Nuclear scinitgraphy is an ideal imaging modality based on its high sensitivity and ease of imaging the entire skeleton. Study subjects include sport horses and racehorses presenting with lameness or poor performance that was investigated with nuclear scinitgraphy. Imaging reports will be reviewed for sites of increased radiopharmaceutical uptake (IRU). Each site of IRU will be recorded by location, identifying both the bone within the skeleton and the anatomical location within the bone. Each site of IRU will also be graded for severity and quality. IRU sites will be compared between sport horses and racehorses using relative risk. Similarly, IRU sites will be compared for sidedness (left, right, or bilateral) and fore/hind differences. Identifying differences in IRU sites will promote understanding of the relationship between discipline-specific biomechanical tasks and associated limb loading. Understanding these relationships may allow for future development of methods for injury prevention.



Pablo Espinosa-Mur, DVM, DACVS, DECVS

Pablo Espinosa-Mur is a faculty surgeon at UC Davis. He obtained his Veterinary degree at the University Complutense of Madrid, Spain. He completed an Internship in Equine Medicine and Surgery at the University of Montreal, Canada. After this internship, Pablo started working with Dr. Philippe Benoit in a Lameness and Orthopedic referral practice in Paris. He then completed an equine surgery internship at Milton Equine Hospital in Canada before starting his surgical residency at UC Davis. Dr. Espinosa-Mur is currently working on several research projects including a novel technique for injection of the navicular bursa by ultrasonographic guidance. He has also worked on a technique to perform desmotomy of the palmar annular ligament in the standing horse using a minimally invasive approach and ultrasonographic assistance. This year Dr. Espinosa-Mur will present the results of the neck study at ACVS and AAEP. Pablo is also actively collaborating with Dr. Mathieu Spriet on the application of positron emission tomography as diagnostic tool in lame horses. Pablo has a specific interest in lameness, diagnostic imaging, regenerative therapies and orthopedic surgery.


Jennifer Symons, PhD Biomedical Engineer, Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Researcher

Jennifer Symons, PhD is an equestrian, scientist, and engineer that is interested in biomechanics of equine athletes. She studied mechanical and biomedical engineering at the University of California at Davis, and performed research within the J. D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory spanning tissue mechanics to whole body dynamics. With the guidance of Susan Stover, DVM, PhD, DACVS, Jen developed and validated a combined forelimb and race surface computational model to understand the effect of race surface mechanical properties on racehorse limb dynamics during gallop. Jen currently works as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Portland. Additionally, she is focused on extending her research knowledge and experience to other equine disciplines, particularly showjumping and dressage. Her goal is to identify equine athlete injuries and their causes, as well as develop methods for injury prevention and optimal performance.