Deductive Reasoning

By the time you read this, tax time will be nearly over. The rush to get all those receipts collected and all the itemized deductions documented will be but a fond memory. My guess is that you, like many others and me, had some charitable donations in 1998. We gave to the church, and the heart fund, and the lung association, and the cancer fund, and United Way, and March of Dimes, and God’s Pantry, and the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army, and the local or state police, and maybe even our college alumni association.

So, in all those donations, how much did you give to equine research?

Kinda makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? I know it did when I made myself face the same question.

It’s not that any of the multitude of charities out there are not deserving. We might have a more personal interest in one or two because they touch home somehow.

But how much more "home" can we get than the equine companion standing in the front field or back lot?

How much more interest can we have in any other pursuit or business than we have with our horses?

How much longer can we expect "someone else" to fund equine research to find the answers to the questions we ask on a daily basis?

Paying your vet bill is a good thing. But that doesn’t contribute to finding the answers to why your horse got sick or funding the discovery of new ways to heal or treat your animal.

Buying this magazine is wonderful. (Please keep doing it!) We have a foundation that supports charities, including equine research. But while buying The Horse indirectly helps research, it does not allow the horse owner to fund a specific project.

It’s difficult to know where to send your dollars for the best effect. There are a number of outstanding organizations that fund equine research, including the American Quarter Horse Association Foundation, Morris Animal Foundation, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation, Piedra Foundation, Gluck Equine Research Foundation, and foundations that support research at each specific veterinary school.

For years I had the feeling that the small amount that I could afford to send wasn’t what the university types were looking for. I thought they only wanted six or seven zeros after the numbers on a check. Support for a new building or funding of a chair in some area of research was what received most of the attention and press.

I was wrong.

Steve Reed, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM, who has been working in EPM research in the past few years, told me a little story.

A woman’s horse died from equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). She took out a small ad in a magazine to thank The Ohio State University staff for their help in trying to save her horse. She also asked that people send in funds to support research into EPM.

I asked him if those small donations really made a difference.

"With enough small donations, we can put them together and buy a computer dedicated strictly to keeping information on our EPM cases and research," said Reed.

It doesn’t take too many people sending in $25 or $50 to add up to a computer these days.

The other thing to remember is that funding for equine research is tight. In fact, even with the booming economy and dramatic increase in the number of horses in this country, funding for equine research has become harder and harder to acquire. Many worthy causes are asking for money, and often it is the research that pays.

I’ve known researchers to beat the bushes for enough money to buy and feed a group of horses needed to test a new treatment or drug. Or work overtime writing grants in order to pay their graduate students . It often is those students who put in long hours in the barns and laboratories doing the tedious work to make the breakthroughs and help our horses be healthier.

Yet here I sit, with very few receipts (outside of vet and farrier and board bills) that show how much I appreciate horses and how much they mean to my quality of life.

What kind of example am I setting for my children? "Enjoy the horses, girls, but don’t feel obligated to try and make their lives better." It’s not something I’m happy admitting.

But, on the bright side, it’s another year, and there are still a multitude of dedicated researchers working on every equine problem you can imagine who would be more than happy to let you help them make a difference.

Want to contribute to a particular type of research such as colic, EPM, respiratory disease, ulcers, breeding problems in stallions or mares, lameness, transportation stress, arthritis, endometritis, uveitis, or metritis?

Take your pick. Look up various veterinary schools on the Internet and see what they say about the research being done there. Call and talk to the public relations staff or the person who handles fundraising for the school. Any of them will be happy to tell you what research the school is known for, and what they hope to achieve.

If you have read an article in The Horse that hits home with a problem that you encountered, talk to the people we used as sources. Many of them are researchers who could use a few more dollars to get that next project off the ground.

Ask your veterinarian. He or she is a graduate of some veterinary school and chances are will have ties to teachers/researchers at that institution and would be happy to guide you in that direction.

The pleasure of spending hours working with or around horses is a balm to the spirit. The joy of riding and learning and seeing the world from the back of a horse is hard to explain to someone who isn’t similarly affected. By donating to research, we can help replay them by making their world better.

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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