2017-2018 Equine Research Program Funded Projects

Since 1960, the American Quarter Horse Foundation has awarded more than $11.7 million to various colleges and Universities

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The American Quarter Horse Foundation fills a vital role as one of four private institutions funding equine research. Since 1960, more than $11.7 million has been awarded to various colleges and Universities to further our understanding of equine management and health and improve the overall welfare of our horse.

Colorado State University ($30,359)

“Unconventional Signaling of Stallion Sperm Activation”

Reproduction in its simplest form is the successful interaction between a single sperm cell and an oocyte. It is well accepted that insemination of high quality sperm at the appropriate time results in relatively high conception rates. Additionally, many factors affecting fertilization both in vivo and in vitro are probably the result of issues associated with the oocyte, namely capacitation, hyperactivation and or acrosome reaction. This proposal is to identify unconventional signaling of stallion sperm activation. Principal Investigator: Jason Bruemmer PhD


Colorado State University ($19,716)

“The Effect of Exercise-Based Rehabilitation in a Tendinopathy Model”

The goal of this project is to advance the understanding of how changes in speed and grade, incline versus decline, of exercise-based rehabilitation affect quality of tendon healing in equine athletes. This projected work is to provide evidence-based recommendations for exercise, to be used along-side currently used tendon therapies.

Principal Investigator: Sherry Johnson DVM, Young Investigator Award


Colorado State University ($19,864)

“The Relationship between Sagittal Hoof Conformation and Hindlimb Lameness in the Horse”

Lameness is one of the most common reasons for a horse to be examined by a veterinarian. The cause of lameness is often multifactorial, and determining predisposing or contributing factors are important to both improve animal welfare and minimize economic impacts on the equine industry. The objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between this long-toed, low-heeled conformation and hindlimb lameness.

Principal Investigator: Lynn Pezzanite DVM, Young Investigator Award


Michigan State University ($24,101)

“Navicular Syndrome: Widespread Pathological Effects within Foot, not just Restricted to the Navicular Apparatus”

Navicular Syndrome has long been a crippling lameness condition affecting horses at their peak performance. The present proposal seeks to examine the frog and other tissues to document the deterioration of the foot’s connective and vascular tissues, as well as their potential regenerative and recovery capabilities in normal and navicular animals following trimming. This project hypothesizes that this trimming protocol permits the inner foot tissues to respond to loading and adapt to provide support and dissipate energy; meaning that the foot can be rehabilitated.

Principal Investigator: Robert Bowker VMD, PhD


Texas A&M University ($47,458)

“Discovery of Stallion Fertility Genes in the Y Chromosome”

Stallion fertility is a cornerstone of the equine breeding industry and prospective sires are carefully evaluated for breeding soundness. The Y chromosome occupies a special position: its presence only in males, and inheritance exclusively through the male lineage, favor accumulation of genes that improve male fertility. The findings are expected to add an important genetic component to stallion evaluation and clinical diagnostics of subfertility and or infertility. Developing molecular tools for stallion evaluation is also an important step towards DNA-based precision medicine in an equine practice.

Principal Investigator: Terje Raudsepp, PhD


Texas A&M University ($19,850)

“Effect of Maternal Overnutrition on Skeletal Muscle Fiber Development and Metabolism in the Foal”

Maternal nutrition impacts fetal development and alters phenotypes, which persist into adulthood. With the prevalence of obesity and metabolic disorders in horses, investigation of the impact of maternal overnutrition in mares is of critical importance for maximizing foal health. Therefore, the proposed study seeks to determine the effects of maternal overnutrition on skeletal muscle development and cell signaling pathways. The data obtained from this study will be integral in determining distinct nutritional requirements to allow the horse to reach full genetic athletic potential.

Principal Investigator: Amanda Bradbery, Young Investigator Award


University of Georgia ($4,207)

“Comparison of Fresh and Frozen Equine Platelet Rich Plasma and Fresh and Frozen Equine Serum to Inhibit Matrix Metalloproteinases in Equine Tears”

Ulcerative keratitis is a common eye problem in horses and can occur due to trauma, bacterial infections, or fungal infections. Ulcers can progress and begin to melt the cornea without proper treatment. This process of melting is due to an increase in enzymes that are found in tears and can break down the cornea. Platelet rich plasma is also derived from blood but unlike serum it contains growth factors and platelets, both of which have been shown to improve corneal healing and decrease scaring in human corneas. While platelet rich plasma is easy to obtain and holds great promise for the treatment of equine corneal ulcers, prior to being tried in patients, it will be essential to evaluate the effect of platelet rich plasma in tears to determine if it has the potential to aggravate or alleviate corneal melting.

Principal Investigator: Silvia Pryor DVM, Young Investigator Award


University of Minnesota ($67,171)

“Genetic Variants Responsible for Health and Performance in the Quarter Horse”

Selective breeding has resulted in specialized Quarter Horse populations that excel in multiple disciplines. Research has demonstrated that selective breeding practices, which include inbreeding and line breeding to perfect certain disciplines, have also led to substantial population substructure within the Quarter Horse breed. We have capitalized on this structure to identify the genomic regions of interest that likely harbor the genes and alleles responsible for elite performance in racing, cutting, reining, halter, pleasure and working cow horse. However, selective breeding, while it can produce elite performers, it can severely limit the gene pool and increase the frequency of undesirable traits. Understanding the impact of selective breeding practices will allow breeders to select for traits of interest, while avoiding genetic diseases, resulting in healthier horses in future generations.

Principal Investigator: Molly McCue DVM, PhD


University of Tennessee ($20,009)

“Determination and Pharmacokinetics of Grapiprant in Horses”

Due to the desire for excellence, the introduction of substances designed to illegally improve the prospects of winning will inevitably find their way into horses used in competitive events. A new class of drugs utilized to treat pain has recently been developed. One of these drugs, grapiprant, has not been approved for use in horses; however, this drug could be used inappropriately in horses. This proposal is to develop a method to detect the presence of grapiprant in the plasma and urine of horses and determine for how long it can be detected after it is administered.

Principal Investigator: Sherry Cox PhD


For more information on the American Quarter Horse Foundation’s equine research program, please contact us at:

American Quarter Horse Foundation

Equine Research Program

PO Box 32111

Amarillo, TX 79120


(806) 378-5029 phone

(806) 376-1005 fax