Top Foal-Related Studies of 2012-’13

Dr. Chris Sanchez reviews recent top research papers published focusing on foal health.
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Even though they’re small in stature, foals can have some big health problems. And researchers around the world are continually working to better understand these health problems and find more effective ways to treat them. At the 2013 Society for Theriogenology Conference, held Aug. 7-10 in Louisville, Ky., Chris Sanchez, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, associate professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, reviewed some of the top research papers published in the last year focusing on foal health.

The first study Sanchez described aimed to answer an "age-old" question: is it worth it, financially, to hospitalize and treat sick neonatal foals? While several research papers have evaluated the future racing performance of hospitalized Thoroughbred foals, she pointed out that some breeders don’t necessarily want to know if the foal will race successfully after treatment. In many cases, they want to know if the foal will sell at auction.

To determine if hospitalized foals presented for public auction sell for a comparable price to controls, a pair of Irish researchers evaluated 63 foals hospitalized before reaching 125 days of age (roughly four months). Of those horses, 19 were presented to be sold as weanlings, 39 as yearlings, and five as 2-year-olds. Using other sales horses (the three horses presented to the same sale immediately before and immediately after the subject) as controls, the team found that hospitalization as a foal does not appear to affect sales price or buy-back rate at auction.

"The bottom line from their study was that if foals made it to the sales, they did not have a significant difference in buy-back rate or sales price, relative to controls," Sanchez said. "It’s a quick, simple study, but it’s really good information

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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