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Equine sports medicine the focus of new $1.5M chair

Dr. Renaud Léguillette. Image courtesy of Moore Equine.

Dr. Renaud Léguillette. Image courtesy of Moore Equine.

Calgary, AB – A new research chair – the Calgary chair in equine sports medicine – is being established by the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM). Research enabled by the chair will benefit the equine industry by helping high-performance equine athletes to maintain peak fitness while avoiding injuries.

University of Calgary associate professor and interim department head of the UCVM’s Department of Veterinary Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences, Dr. Renaud Léguillette, has been appointed as the inaugural research chair.

At the UCVM he has developed a research program on inflammatory lung diseases such as heaves, and IAD (Inflammatory Airway Disease), as well as in equine sports medicine with a focus on cardio-respiratory physiology. He has performed many clinical trials and field studies on the treatment of heaves and IAD, as well as on exercise physiology of show jumpers and chuckwagon horses. He is practicing as a UCVM equine internal medicine specialist at Moore Equine in Balzac, Alberta.

He says the chair will have a significant impact on the equine industry: “It’s very important for the horse community to be at the cutting edge of research so it has direct access to new discoveries to better take care of horses and improve their health.”

Establishing the Calgary chair in equine sports medicine was kicked off by a $250,000 donation from the Calgary Stampede, which produces and hosts many activities involving sport horses. “Our goal is to support research that continues to inform how the stampede and other horse-based events can continue to evolve our practices to protect the health and wellbeing of equine competitors,” says Paul Rosenberg, the stampede’s chief operating officer.

Dr. Erin Shields, who was in UCVM’s first graduating class, is completing a clinical residency program in equine sports medicine, supervised by Léguillette and supported by a $135,000 donation from Moore Equine Veterinary Centre. Shields says the chair will allow for a closer connection between the university’s research and horse owners and trainers in the area.

That connection to the community is what drives Léguillette’s research focus of health and performance of competition horses in all disciplines represented in Alberta. Another supporter, Ms. Linda Atkinson, provided $50,000 after her horse was cared for by Léguillette.

“It’s really about how the horses are breathing, how their hearts are adapting to exercise and training and how to make sure things are safe for these horses so they can compete at their optimal level without getting injured,” says Léguillette.

“This is applied clinical research that aims to solve specific problems facing the horse community. And you don’t need to be at the Olympic level to benefit.”

The community also supported this program and UCVM has contributed additional support for a total value of over $1,500,000.