USEA Launches Equine Research Initiative

United States Eventing Association (USEA) board of governors member Katherine Cooper announced a bold new program to support the health care of equine athletes on Dec. 7 at the organization's annual meeting and convention. The eventing community has recognized that there is a significant lack of funding for equine medical research and has taken a major step forward to change this dynamic.

Beginning in January 2014, the USEA will make a $1.00 dollar per starter assessment; those dollars will go to fund equine medical research that benefits sport horses. As a community, this will amount to approximately $40,000 per year in research dollars. This money will support projects like the ongoing USEA Cardiopulmonary Research Study, as well as new relevant studies.

The USEA has developed a partnership with Morris Animal Foundation to help distribute and monitor these funds. Morris has decades of experience in reviewing grant applications from universities and research institutions and has a team of veterinarians who spend thousands of volunteer hours assessing which studies are most likely to impact horse welfare.

A USEA committee comprised of riders and veterinarians will determine which studies the funds will target. Morris will also monitor the studies that the USEA chooses to fund and will report regularly on how the money is being used.

Several people stepped forward to donate funds to jumpstart this new initiative, including Mike and Joy VanNoy, Kevin and Gretchen Baumgardner, DC and Steve McBroom, USEA President Diane Pitts, Mark Hart (who is a key player in the cardiovascular study), Carolyn Myers, Hilary DeAngelis, Beth Lendrum, Jerome Broussard, Kaiti Saunders, and Katherine Cooper. A check from this group in the amount of $11,150 was presented to representatives from Morris at the Dec. 7 awards banquet. This money will be used to fund the USEA’s first batch of equine medical research studies.

The USEA Endowment Trust also made a preliminary donation to the new program. The endowment trust has held memorial funds that were donated in U.S. Olympian Amy Tryon’s memory after her untimely death in 2012. Amy’s family and friends decided that these funds will be used to kick off this equine medical research program. Also during the awards banquet, a second check for $10,650 was presented to Morris Animal Foundation from the USEA Endowment Trust and the Amy Tryon Memorial Fund.

Finally, the USEA has issued a challenge to the other United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) disciplines to make this program the first step in an ongoing global effort to raise funds for equine medical research. The next phase is for other disciplines and breeds to create similar programs for their sports. In making this additional effort, the USEA was honored to have USEF President Christine Tauber lend her support to this endeavor.

Tauber recognized the leadership of eventers in driving equine medical research and encouraging the other USEF disciplines and breeds to create their own programs to support equine medical research.

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