The Sport Horse Research Foundation

the Sport Horse Research Foundation

Awarded Grants & Research



Grantee: Jennifer Symons, PhD
Year: 2016
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.



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.