Monday, June 19, 2017

OTTBs for SCIENCE!!

A cool thing about the equestrian blogging community is that we are all fairly unified in our love for ponies, right? (duh, emma...)

But also within the community there are various sub-interest groups. Some bloggers are into art, or writing, or graphic design. Or history or technology or science. Etc etc, you get the point. Which means that as we get to know each other within the realm of a shared love of horses, we can also find new folks with even more overlapping interests.

this post unapologetically includes fairly monochromatic photographs. bc.... well, mostly bc of the subject matter haha. to go along with the theme and maybe make it feel more 'pretty' than it actually is, here's a "artsy" (snort) shot of charlie biting his beloved fan after a ride on a particularly hot day
Personally, I kinda dig science. And often enjoy talking about ponies from a more scientifically methodological view point with other like-minded individuals.... like, say, Nicole from Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management.

Most recently, Nicole brought a cool new cutting edge research project to my attention. Paul Szauter, the Chief Scientific Officer at EquiSeq, had uncovered Nicole's velociraptor's OTTB's pedigree through the Bloodline Brag on the Retired Racehorse Project's site and contacted her about collecting samples from Murray for a new study.

a special package!
The team is apparently looking for TBs with some combination of Northern Dancer and Raise a Native, tho I'm not sure about the exact criteria.*

Nicole obviously thought it was pretty darn cool to have her horse specifically sought out by a research team, and furthermore encouraged me to contact the researchers to see if Charlie would also qualify for inclusion in the study.

*Charlie has Northern Dancer x3, but no Raise a Native, and was accepted in the study. Meanwhile, Nicole had a friend whose horse has both but was not accepted in the study.

the letter from package #1
She encouraged me to reach out to Paul directly (pszauter at gmail) with my OTTB's Jockey Club name and year foaled to see if Charlie was eligible for inclusion in the study.

Naturally, tho, before I did so, I googled the ever loving crap out of this Paul fellow haha. Bc. Ya know. I'm kinda a CreepStar3000. Or like, if you didn't know that... well. Now you know. Ahem.

the letter in package #2, actually an envelope. plus included sample baggie
And I actually found a lot of really cool stuff in googling the guy - he personally has been involved in the field of genomics for quite a long time, and has conducted a number of studies specifically relating to horses - the last big one focused on PSSM.

I was even able to uncover some details on what this particular project was all about - and it looked pretty cool. The gist is that they're working on developing genetic tests to identify performance-related genetic diseases (like a predisposition for tying up) in such a way that may positively influence breeding practices and management of affected horses.

instructions to the vet or person responsible for drawing blood
So I emailed him (pszauter at gmail) and was pleasantly surprised to receive a very prompt reply. Charlie was accepted into the study!

Paul let me know that I would receive a few things in the mail:

- a blood sample kit with a vial, shipping container, and instructions
- an informed consent form and health questionnaire
- a hair sample kit with prepaid return envelope

hair sample! apologies for the blur...
The health questionnaire is pretty straight forward - asking some basic questions about the horse's lineage (for OTTBs this is all easily found via pedigreequery.com), siblings, and progeny. And about the individual horse's known history of tying up, a tie back surgery, any heritable conditions, and any other medical issues or special dietary needs.

It takes a couple minutes to complete the forms in a thorough manner - but it also probably won't require any real digging into information that isn't well-known to you.

and.... here's a vignette of my trunk and various pieces of tack. just 'cuz.
So. Charlie's well on his way to benefiting the equestrian scientific community - with the help of a few plucked hairs and some spare blood. Not too shabby!

Personally I'm pretty curious about what may come of this - but even if Charlie's only real contribution is giving them a better base N, that's cool with me too. I'm happy to participate, knowing that there are folks out there dedicated to using science to create better diagnostic tools and methods for improving the quality of life for horses today and the potential horses of tomorrow.

And in the meantime - if you have an OTTB, maybe consider shooting Paul an email too, including your horse's Jockey Club name and year foaled. Even if you're not super into science it's cool to participate!

27 comments:

  1. That is a cool study. You two are not only rocking the eventing world but you are making the world a better place. :D :D

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  2. That is super cool! I'm pretty sure Hero doesn't have either of those horses in his bloodline but I'm all about science and research.

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    1. definitely! and hey, it might be worth a shot anyway - i really don't know their specific criteria in what they're looking for, since charlie only had one of those horses.

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    2. They are looking for lots of other bloodlines! Lauren at She Moved to Texas was accepted for a totally different ancestor.

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  3. I'm not particularly into science, but so grateful research like this is being conducted! I'd totally offer to participate, except I FINALLY managed to re-home my horse. My wallet sighs in gratitude ��

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    1. ooooooh yay congrats!! i know it wasn't originally the ultimate goal, but hopefully this means there might be room soon for a horse more interested in being *your* partner!

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  4. Oh, neat! No OTTBs here, but both my beasties have had at least some color testing done, and Cessa's got the 6-panel disease test that the SDHR does (HYPP/HERDA/GBED/PSSM-1/MH/JEB). Some day, I'll nerd out and get ALL THE TESTS. lol

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    1. it's pretty amazing what they can do these days! apparently the tests this guy is currently working on will benefit arabs and QHs too, but i'm not sure if they're including those breeds in this testing group or not

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  5. They accepted Archie and Whiskey, even when I said that Whiskey was an unregistered Appaloosa. I guess for controls? I wonder if there's gonna be an honorable mention somewhere.. like, "To the X-number of horses who involuntarily donated blood and hair." I'd add it to the shrine.

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    1. ooooh awesome!!! and yea i really have no clue how they're selecting horses bc they obvi have some type of criteria... idk tho, that's super cool! and yea.... these poor horses and everything they endure for our whims. it won't be the first time charlie's had to sacrifice some of his blood to the gods of science!

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  6. I love scientific studies and have participated in some myself. This post actually reminded me to look up a study I heard about looking at haflinger color genetics. It was something Maggie may have been eligible for.

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    1. oh cool! i've actually never participated in anything before (bc... uh, i'm actually kinda lazy) but i've always loved the idea!

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  7. That project sounds pretty neat

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  8. "I also found out his home address, phone number, favorite color, what he takes in his coffee, and what his first pet's name was." CreepStar 3000 indeed.

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    1. lol yea...... i'm pretty shameless, after all.

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  9. That sounds like a great study. I LOVE research and science. The best class I ever took was in not how to do research, but how to read it. Looking at the power of the study, the variables that were controlled and whatnot. So interesting and really eye opening. Most research, when looked at super critically, doesn't really stand up but it is all still thought provoking and leads to other projects and I could go all nerdy and geek out on this topic for like ever.

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  10. Sounds like a cool study. Will they tell you when they publish it so you can see the results?

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  11. That's so neat! And cool to think that they do studies like this to further breeding practices so it's not a crap shoot. I'm sure it's not now, but I know less than nothing about breeding, so any help I'm sure is appreciated.

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  12. We're doing this study too! So cool!

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  13. This sounds so cool! I am absolutely in love with genetics and how it influences horses. Just the other day I was looking back in the pedigrees of our horses, and it was so interesting to find that Amber, a performance bred QH had lots of foundation QH with a bit of TB in the way back, and my mom's western pleasure bred QH has a ton of TB and only a little bit of foundation. It's so fascinating to see how each of those lines have affected not only phenotype but what they could be genetically predisposed to. I love that these studies are going on! I'll definitely have to look up what he did on PSSM.

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  14. Are you sure they're not just taking dna from every awesome horse in blog land in order to clone them? *Dibs on Charlie2* :)

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  15. I'm curious to follow this study. I read recently that this particular bloodline (Raise a Native specifically) has a propensity to produce great running horses that break down quickly/frequently because it is being overused. I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I do think it is important to know bloodlines regardless of breed. I have an OTTB and a plain ol' TB and I'm going to submit their info to see if they want either of them!

    http://www.espn.com/sports/horse/triplecrown08/columns/story?columnist=nack_bill&id=3399004

    There is quite a lot of fascinating info on the Pedlines blog about TB bloodlines, durability and speed.
    It is getting quite difficult to find a TB that does not go back to one or both of those stallions.

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