Helping Horses Worldwide
As a responsible horse owner, you make management decisions that affect the current well-being of your horse and his future vitality. You order low-dust bedding for your gelding with heaves. Your veterinarian arrives for her scheduled visit and you observe as she administers your mare's autumn vaccinations. You keep the new pony that shipped in yesterday in his own separate paddock so you can watch for any signs of illness before introducing him to the rest of your herd. While these decisions to better care for your horse might seem commonsense and perhaps mundane, they are the result of management recommendations that have emerged from decades of research from institutions all over the world. The Animal Health Trust (AHT) in Newmarket, England, is a major player in the equine research field and its scientists' endeavors touch our horses' lives daily--from pioneering passive transfer of serum to protect against equine influenza to helping you determine the best way to bring equine athletes back from devastating performance injuries.
The equine scientists and clinicians at this 63-year-old, highly respected charitable organization work on a canvas that is more than just the few research herds that are on the Trust's grounds, which are based at the center of Britain's hotbed for Thoroughbred racing. The Trust's research subjects also include hundreds of equine patients from the whole of Europe each year, and thousands of horses across the globe from which disease information is collated annually. Some of the scientists work in the Centre for Equine Studies, which was officially launched in 1997 (equine research was in full swing beginning in the early 1940s, but the group was based in downtown Newmarket until its current purpose-designed facility was opened), while others work just across the driveway in the Centre for Preventive Medicine. Top canine and feline researchers also work at this facility. The Horse spent a few days shadowing clinicians and researchers on the equine side to find out what some of the Trust's greatest accomplishments have been, and get a glimpse of what breakthroughs might be around the corner.
The Clinical Side:
Children's Show Ponies to Olympic Mounts
Perhaps the side of the AHT's Centre for Equine Studies that's most visible to owners is the diagnosis and treatment of clinical cases. "Horses come from all over the country and continent of Europe," says Sue Dyson, VetMB, PhD, FRCVS, head of Clinical Orthopaedics. "With respect to the clinical work, about 90% is orthopedic or performance-related and the rest is cardiac and respiratory problems. The complexity of the cases varies hugely."
There are two large, well-known referral practices in Newmarket that handle a regular client base and emergencies, whereas the Trust is more of a specialty clinic.
On the first day that AHT hosted The Horse, Dyson had nine horses lined up for lameness examination or re-exam throughout the day. Sometimes she will see up to 13. On new cases (three to four per day), Dyson initially meets with the horse's owners in her office to get its history. After palpating the horse's neck, limbs, and back in the stall to detect areas of soreness, swelling, or imbalance in the muscles, Dyson, the horse, its owners, an assistant, and one or two interns go out to a paved lameness exam area where Dyson looks over the horse closely as it stands square before walking and trotting for soundness.
"They're always (walked and trotted) on a straight line because you can watch very carefully how each foot is placed on the ground," she says. "I watch at the walk first because the sequence and slowness helps you to look a lot more closely at the relative stride lengths."
She watches the horse closely on its turns since many foot lamenesses are more visible on the turn. If she suspects back pain, she'll turn the horse in circles and look at the mobility of its neck and back. After trotting the horse, she performs a flexion test on all limbs to see if it induces or exacerbates the lameness.
"We see them longe on a soft surface--some to let off steam--to see whether lameness is accentuated on the circle, or if lameness wasn't apparent (on a straight line), if it becomes apparent looking at the whole horse's movement," she continues. "Does the horse move through its back and as expressively as the type of horse that it is?" (In other words, does the horse's movement reflect its breeding and ability?)
Next, the horse will be longed on a gravel surface, and if it is well-behaved and calm enough, they will move the longe circle out partially onto pavement. The transition from gravel to pavement can sometimes reveal more clues about the horse's lameness. Some big-moving dressage horses will shorten their stride on the pavement because they are apprehensive of moving on the pavement, so these horses are only evaluated on the firm gravel surface.
After Dyson gets a general impression, sometimes after watching the horse under saddle and sometimes after riding it herself, she recommends diagnostic methods to the owner. These could include ultrasonography, nerve or joint blocks, radiography, or scintigraphy (rarely will she send a horse to magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, before getting closer to discerning the problem with other methods).
The MRI unit has been in place since January 2001--it was purchased for small animal use, but has been used regularly by Dyson's group. More than 450 equine problems involving feet, limbs, and heads have been imaged with MRI.
The clinic's large caseload allows clinicians to hone their diagnostic skills on difficult lamenesses, and every case has one thing in common: It feeds directly into the research projects performed at the Trust. For example, you'll see Dyson lay down on the ground and take a photograph of the hooves of every horse she examines for lameness. "We try to keep really good
clinical information for retrospective studies," she says about referrals. "Potentially, any horse can be part of (an ongoing) study, and some are targeted as a prospective study (in which subjects are enrolled and then followed up later)."
"Our particular areas of interest in orthopedic research are foot pain and joint disease," says Rachel Murray, MA, VetMB, MS, PhD, MRCVS, Dipl. ACVS, ECVS, head of Orthopaedic Research. "We're particularly interested in the diagnostic side--understanding advanced imaging techniques and how they relate to specific images of orthopedic disease. So we're not only trying to understand the mechanics of the disease, but how to diagnose it better," and thus treat it optimally.
The Trust has led the way in helping veterinarians worldwide understand imaging of the horse's body with scintigraphy and MRI. "We think it's very important that we know what's normal before we try to find what's abnormal (in imaging)," says Murray. Practitioners from the world over visit the Centre for Equine Studies for days at a time to learn how to better interpret imaging technologies by watching Dyson and Murray work.
Studying subtle lameness problems in the horse and how they resolve has led to Dyson and Murray treating more horses with complete rest and shoeing (there is a farrier on the premises) rather than a combination of light work, shoeing, and pain killers. "We send this information out to all our referring veterinarians and people who might use that information, because we feel it's quite important," Murray says.
Here are some of the recent accomplishments of orthopedic research at AHT:
MRI--Researchers helped establish what is normal in equine joints when interpreting MRI, particularly in the foot, and have defined the normal anatomy of the deep digital flexor tendon. Says Murray, "MRI can show every tendon, ligament, piece of cartilage, and bone, and see very well what structures are involved."
Comparative imaging--Researchers can overlap scintigraphy and MRI images to help compare lesions, which has given the researchers a better understanding of scintigraphy (which is less expensive for the owner).
Epidemiological studies--For example, a review of 10 years of cases showed that different types of sport horses have different types of injuries, and even differing injuries for levels within that sport. This has enabled researchers to examine what the horses might be doing (mechanically) to cause these injuries and figure out what owners can do to prevent them.
A case in point: Elite dressage horses have the highest risk of proximal suspensory desmitis, while lower-level dressage horses are more likely to have foot pain. This information enables Murray to make suggestions to event organizers and horse owners to avoid these problems, such as having even footing in the arena that isn't too deep or not doing a lot of trot extensions unless the horse is strong enough.
The Trust has also made suggestions for eventers; for example, an elite-level eventer is about 200 times more likely to get a superficial digital flexor tendon injury than a lower-level horse.
Dehydration and collagen--In a collaborative study with Cambridge University, AHT researchers linked hydration and collagen structure in the equine hoof, meaning hydration of the foot might be important in preventing hoof damage. Further work is ongoing to look at the structure of bone and how this changes in diseases. Cambridge University researchers now are applying the data to humans.
Hoof pain--Researchers have shown that most hoof pain is caused by injury to one or more of the following structures: Deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT), navicular bone, suspensory ligament, distal interphalangeal joint, and/or the collateral ligament. Prognosis of a hoof lameness case appears to be related to the number of structures involved.
Angle of the coffin bone, or distal phalanx--Researchers showed that a flatter angle of the coffin bone predisposes horses to deep digital flexor tendon injuries (More information: www.TheHorse.com/emag.
aspx?ID=5418). In other words, the less upright the coffin bone is, the more likely a horse is to injure its deep digital flexor tendon. This will help researchers determine ways to better shoe horses to obtain proper coffin bone angles and prevent injury.
Right-handed horses--Studies found the majority of horses prefer to use their right sides (are right-handed, so to speak), even unhandled horses.
Additional ongoing studies in Orthopaedics include:
- Hoof pain and collateral ligament damage.
- Osteoarthritis and the joint--how exactly does arthritis develop in the cartilage and the bone underneath in the carpus (knee), tarsus (hock), and fetlock?
- Hoof shape, lameness, and structures associated with lameness.
"My goal is to convince horse owners that healthy horses don't cough," says David Marlin, BSc, PhD, head of physiology. "The other thing is, just because your horse isn't coughing doesn't mean it's healthy.
"The most common undiagnosed cause of disappointing performance in horses is probably respiratory disease," he adds.
Exercise physiology/respiratory research at the AHT can be broken down into seven areas:
Quantitative lung function--Marlin isn't sure if the prevalence of inflammatory airway disease has increased or if vets are just looking for it more. He and his colleagues are interested in measuring lung function accurately and relating it to inflammation, using the facility's high-speed treadmill and lung function equipment to find out the composition and amount of air moving in and out of the lung and its components. (The protein, lipid, and neutrophil content of exhaled air can indicate what's happening at a microscopic level in the lung. For an example of this application, see "Antioxidants and Heaves" on page 18). Additionally, they would like to see how treatments improve lung function.
Diagnostic tests--Not every horse with poor performance can be admitted for a lung function test and tracheal and broncheoalveolar lavages. So, Marlin and his colleagues are working to develop sensitive diagnostic tests that can be used in the field to detect respiratory disease more rapidly.
Respiratory disease and transport--Marlin led the group that studied the effect of transport on horses in preparation for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He has a great interest in how shipping profoundly affects the horse's health, namely in causing shipping fever. He's working with the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) to help them develop guidelines for improved transport of slaughter horses (the ILPH will be lobbying for approval of these guidelines) and in defining the acceptable length of a trailer journey.
Respiratory system and endurance--Marlin heads up an international research collaboration that is examining health and welfare problems in endurance. Next spring, the AHT in conjunction with other researchers and veterinarians from around the world, including the University of Sydney (Leo Jeffcott, BVetMed, PhD, MRCVS, DVSC, MA, VetDr), The Ohio State University (Ken Hinchcliff, BVSc, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM), Michigan State University (Hal Schott, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM), and University of Guelph (Ray Geor, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM), will monitor horses in an endurance ride in the United Arab Emirates as part of the ICEEP (International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology) and FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) initiative for welfare in endurance.
Basic mechanisms of disease--In completing evaluations, researchers are gaining a greater understanding of what is happening from the nostrils down to the most distal portions of the lungs during exercise.
The group also has a number of projects on "bleeders" (horses suffering from exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage) and is working with racing authorities around the world, including the Hong Kong Jockey Club. A strong line of this research is aimed at understanding the link between locomotion and bleeding. A study to be published in the Equine Veterinary Journal based on U.K. racing has shown that the risk of epistaxis (bleeding from the nose) increases with increasing ground hardness.
Managing disease--The researchers have also studied ideal bedding types for horses with recurrent airway obstruction, or heaves (shredded newspaper was best).
Mild inflammation and lung function--"We want to look at what happens with young racehorses that have some mild, but persistent, inflammation of airways," says Eduardo Jose-Cunilleras, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, MRCVS, senior cardiorespiratory clinician. "The main things the group will be working on here are heaves or recurrent airway obstruction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or inflammatory airway disease."
Looking at the Heart
Trust cardiologists were the first to use Doppler and two-dimensional ultrasound echocardiography in large numbers of athletic horses to better understand how training and performance affect the heart. "Our biggest research work recently has been around the athletic horse and cardiac function," says senior cardiologist Lesley Young, BVSc, PhD, DVA, DECEIM, DVC, MRCVS. "We're coming to understand how heart valve murmurs affect leaks and how leaks affect performing racehorses, and how the heart is linked to performance in Thoroughbreds." (For more information, see www.TheHorse.com/emag.aspx?ID=1822.)
Currently, Young and colleagues in the Trust's pathology department are looking at sudden death in equine athletes. To best achieve this, they have linked up with a group that includes Mary Sheppard, BSc, MD, MRCPath, England's foremost expert on sudden cardiac death in humans.
"We know that high-performance horses have a mortality rate (during exercise) that's exceptionally high compared to people, and whilst one-third of these horses rupture a large vessel, the remaining two-thirds have no apparent reason for dying," Young says. By using British Jockey Club data and interviewing trainers of these racecourse casualties, the Trust's cardiologists and scientists hope to shed light on the factors that influence these unexpected fatalities.
In addition to its work on athletic horses, the AHT has established itself as an international authority on equine infectious diseases, and it hosts two of the European Office International des Epizooties (OIE, or World Organization for Animal Health) reference laboratories for equine influenza and equine rhinopneumonitis (herpesvirus). Additionally, the Trust manages the International Collating Centre for monitoring equine infectious diseases.
The Trust's work on equine influenza began during an outbreak in 1965, when administration of anti-influenza serum from mares that had recovered from influenza earlier in the outbreak to 160 foals helped protect them from influenza. The OIE reference laboratory for flu was established in the late 1970s, during a significant influenza outbreak in England that crippled the racing industry. Senior virologist Janet Daly, PhD, says, "The AHT was an independent body involved to make sure that (horse owners) would get a good deal from the manufacturers when the Jockey Club began requiring vaccination."
Researchers have since performed vaccine efficacy trials and designed and set up assays to determine antibody levels following vaccination. They developed a challenge model whereby they expose ponies with an adapted nebulizer (the ponies inhale the influenza particles) in order to test the vaccines. "The result has been a good standard of vaccine in Europe," says Daly. "Jenny (Mumford, PhD, director of science and a renowned equine virologist) is largely responsible that the vaccine does what it says on the bottle."
Representatives from the OIE influenza reference laboratories (there are three in the world) meet annually to see what strains are active and if vaccines need to be updated. In 2003, there was another influenza outbreak in the United Kingdom. Thoroughbreds in Newmarket were affected despite the regular use of potent vaccines. Among unvaccinated animals elsewhere in the United Kingdom, the virus caused devastating clinical signs including neurologic disease. This outbreak raised new questions about the factors involved in the ability of equine influenza virus to cause widespread outbreaks, which are currently under investigation.
Here are some other steps that AHT researchers are taking to better understand, prevent, and treat flu:
- Develop better diagnostic assays to be able to quickly determine if a horse is free of influenza (before turning it out with a new herd).
- Stay abreast of active influenza strains, their pathogenicity (or ability to cause disease), and the best ways to protect horses through vaccine content,
administration route, and frequency.
- Modify stables' vaccination schedules so not all the horses are vaccinated at the same time and thus aren't becoming susceptible to disease again simultaneously.
- Develop better models of infection to determine what would happen in non-vaccinated herds vs. sporadically or regularly vaccinated herds.
- Mumford is pushing for "international harmonization" of flu vaccine research to protect horses from strains originating in other continents.
Equine Herpesvirus Type-1
The Trust began examining equine herpesviruses after a neurologic outbreak of equine herpesvirus type-1 (EHV-1) in the 1980s in Newmarket.
Since Nick Davis-Poynter, PhD, head of equine infectious diseases, arrived at the Trust in 1998, he says the main focus of the EHV group has been to find genetic differences between strains circulating in the field and to determine whether differences can be identified between "high-virulence" strains reponsible for outbreaks of severe neurologic or paralytic disease, and other strains responsible for abortigenic or respiratory disease.
Along with researchers from across the world, including George Allen, PhD, of the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Center, the Trust group was able to compare genetic sequences of several EHV isolates to pinpoint a single place in a strain's genetic makeup that determines if it has a high or low risk of causing paralytic disease. The researchers are trying to understand how this gene changes the pathogen's virulence.
Current and upcoming work of the group includes:
- Seek funding to develop a rapid, reliable diagnostic test for paralytic EHV-1.
- Study paralytic outbreaks to determine the origin of EHV "paralytic strains."
- Improve vaccines by generating more cell-mediated immunity. Studies have shown that EHV becomes intracellular (goes within cells), thus it is out of the reach of virus-neutralizing antibodies (which are stimulated via a normal, killed-virus vaccine) within 12 hours of infection in the horse. By creating a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response in vaccinated animals, which destroys the entire infected cell, there seems to be better protection in the pregnant mare (against abortion) and CTLs may also protect against neurologic EHV. "We're closer to developing a better vaccine, but we're not there yet," says immunologist Julia Kydd, PhD.
- Examine new delivery methods for vaccines that generate both systemic and local immunity (at the mucosal surface in the respiratory tract, where the horse picks up the virus).
- Perform vaccine development studies and evaluate existing vaccines.
- Update owners and veterinarians on the latest vaccination recommendations in order to best protect animals from EHV and keep the virus from spreading.
Trust scientists made a major breakthrough in strangles research when they recognized the carrier status of asymptomatic horses (horses that appear normal, but carry Streptococcus equi and can infect other horses) in 1997. "We've done a lot of work on understanding the epidemiology of how the infection behaves in the horse population," says J. Richard Newton, BVSc, MSc, PhD, DLSHTM, Dipl. ECVPH, FRCVS. "We found it had the ability to reside in the guttural pouches of horses" in the form of chondroids, which are hardened pieces of purulent material.
It's difficult to quantify exactly how many strangles outbreaks occur each month, since there is no central international collating center for the disease. However, the AHT is one of many diagnostic centers throughout the country and confirms about 10 new outbreaks in the U.K. each month.
In addition to this diagnostic service, the AHT has a number of other research programs designed to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and management of strangles.
- They have used endoscopy to examine the guttural pouches of carrier horses and initiate treatment. They have also recommended ways to remove chondroids from these horses and recently noted that asymptomatic horses can also carry strangles in their sinus cavities.
- They helped establish the S. equi genome-sequencing project at the Sanger Institute, which should be complete by the end of 2005.
- They have already used these genome data to identify a number of new surface proteins, which are now being exploited to develop new diagnostic ELISA tests to determine exposure and infection status.
- This group studied horses vaccinated with the new Equilis StrepE live-
attenuated vaccine (available in Europe) using new tests that distinguish between different S. equi strains to demonstrate that cases of strangles in vaccinated horses were due to pre-existing field isolates of S. equi and not due to adverse reactions to the vaccine.
- They are continuing to work with companies to develop new vaccines that benefit from improved safety and effectiveness, which build on research done at the AHT.
- They have collaborated with researchers worldwide to identify ways that strangles outbreaks could be managed in order to reduce length of infection and spread of disease on a particular farm (see www.TheHorse.com/emag.aspx?ID=1939).
The researchers are also identifying factors that might predispose certain horses to more serious disease with S. equi, so that these horses might be managed more appropriately.
Veterinary virologist Javier Castillo-Olivares, BVSc, MSc, MRCVS, PhD, veterinary virologist, says equine arteritis virus (EAV) was a major priority at the Trust after an outbreak hit the racehorse industry in 1993. Various research projects focused on the improvement of existing diagnostic tests and vaccines. EAV is an acute, contagious, viral equine disease that can cause fever, respiratory illness, ocular (eye) inflammation, and edema (swelling). It can also cause neonatal foal death, abortion in pregnant mares, and persistent infection in stallions. An EAV diagnostic test developed at the AHT is now routinely used and has improved speed and accuracy of testing large numbers of serum samples. Vaccine research has contributed to a further understanding of the immune response of the horse to this infection and demonstrated the potential of two novel vaccination strategies (sub-unit and genetically modified virus) to better control EAV. Due to the low incidence of EAV in Britain, control has been based on other preventive measures (i.e., identification and appropriate management of infected animals).
Castillo-Olivares says he has started to work in exotic diseases (ones not endemic to England), such as African horse sickness (AHS) and West Nile virus (WNV). A project has been funded to work in collaboration with the Institute for Animal Health in Pirbright, England, on the development of a virus-vectored vaccine for AHS as an alternative to live vaccines.
"The current (AHS) live vaccines can have adverse reactions, and they have to be administered in combination (there are nine different serotypes)," says Castillo-Olivares. Protection isn't always good against certain AHS serotypes, and there is even one AHS serotype that has never been included in vaccines.
Another disadvantage of live vaccines is their safety. If live AHS virus in a vaccine were to encounter a wild-type virus in a field situation, there could be a re-assortment of segments of the AHS genome. This would give the chance for more pathogenic strains to form that could include properties from both the wild strain and the vaccine strain. In a vectored vaccine system, only certain immunogenic proteins of the virus' genome would be put in the shell of another innocuous virus, such as canarypox, thus greatly reducing the risk of disease when vaccinating for AHS.
Castillo-Olivares is collaborating with the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories and WNV experts in Oxford to establish WNV diagnostic tests that would be ideal for use in British horses. Scientists have found WNV antibodies in birds in England, but it's not known if the birds were exposed in their migratory travels or if WNV is active in the country.
It's in the Genes
Another way researchers are striving to help horses is by better understanding how a horse's genes contribute to its health. "The main progress we've tried to make is developing molecular genetics tools for the horse," says June Swinburne, PhD, senior equine geneticist of the AHT's Centre for Preventive Medicine. "We try to identify genes that have implications either in inherited diseases or other inherited traits."
By working in collaboration with the University of Cambridge's Equine Fertility Unit, the group has put together a full pedigree of a family of reference animals required to create a genetic linkage map (which shows how certain traits were inherited). With that map, they could study genes such as those responsible for gray coat color (since the pedigree includes a gray stallion), and the heritability of diseases like melanoma. "It would be ideal if we could start to understand the process of a horse progressively graying and developing melanomas," says Swinburne. The Centre's scientists share what they learn with an international compendium working to decipher the entire equine genome.
Mark Vaudin, PhD, head of genetics, was formerly involved in the mapping and DNA sequencing of the human genome. He compares finding genes responsible for expressing certain traits to visiting a large library. "You know it's somewhere in this group of books, and then in this book, down to the chapter, page, and word," he says. Having the genome sequenced "would enable us to get down to the letters in the word and would rapidly accelerate the type of studies we could do."
Swinburne adds, "Horses are quite difficult animals to tackle in the sense that most of the conditions you would like to investigate are complex inherited diseases likely to involve several genes, not just one. There are also confounding environmental factors (for example, nutrition, general husbandry, and how a horse has been ridden)." Currently the genetics group is collaborating with University of Minnesota researchers on the heritability of tying-up.
Other areas of research include sweet itch, which notoriously affects Icelandic ponies exported to other areas of the world, likely because of allergens new to the ponies (usually insects) and genetic susceptibility. The scientists hope to learn the optimal conditions in which to raise Icelandic ponies to best avoid the disease.
Although the genome sequence is not yet available, the availability of the genetic map should enable researchers to perform genetic studies to determine the genetic predisposition for certain diseases or traits such as osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) and the tendency to fracture, and their relative risk compared to various environmental factors, says Vaudin. The hope is that this type of general information will be of benefit to horse owners and trainers.
One cannot forget the contributions the Trust has made toward equine anesthesiology. Jackie Brearley, MA, VetMB, PhD, DVA, Dipl. ECVA, head of Anesthesia, says her work is risky business. Roughly one in every 100 horses dies within seven days of surgery that involves general anesthesia (compared to about one in 2,000 small animals), and she is trying improve the odds.
Areas of study include:
- Various methods of anesthesia and their effects on vital signs.
- Finding the best anesthesia regimen
to better distinguish between post-
operative pain and colic;
- A better understanding and prevention of post-operative myopathy, a sporadic serious complication characterized by problems ranging from transient lameness to severe swelling of voluntary muscles; this condition often requires euthanasia.
"Now the area that needs to be worked on is getting recoveries as smooth as possible," explains Brearley. "Horses are flight creatures--that's what happens in the recovery box if they don't understand what's going on. Their brains come around (recover from anesthesia) before their legs do...that's how we get fractures."
As you hear about new ways to manage sacroiliac pain, breeding applications to minimize occurrence of melanomas, or stories of a thwarted neurologic herpesvirus outbreak, know that there's likely a scientist at the AHT whose work, in collaboration with other researchers around the world, has contributed to that progress. Even though oceans separate AHT scientists from many of their beneficiaries (horses around the globe), what veterinarians and horse owners learn from those scientists' daily discoveries mean our horses can lead healthier lives.
About the Author
Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.