A panel of experts from the sport horse community was brought together in February to identify what research projects should be undertaken to improve the health and performance of sport horses.

In February, the Sport Horse Research Foundation hosted the first ever Sport Horse Research Summit virtually in February to identify the research questions that were most important to those in the sport horse community.

The event brought together leading riders, trainers, owners, veterinarians, farriers, support staff, and researchers from across North America to discuss what questions scientists should be targeting with their research.   

The summit was held over two days and featured vibrant discussion among Olympic gold medalists, world champions, and national team members. The first day focused on creating a list of research questions that are important to the sport horse community. Participants were asked to share “what questions they felt needed to be answered to have a positive impact on both the health and performance of their horses.”

At the end of Day 1, participants reviewed the list of over 30 ideas and voted on which priorities were the most critical to address. This process informed the selection of the Top 5 Sport Horse Research Priorities.

The Top 5 Sport Horse Research Priorities are:

  • Does competing or training on varied footings have a positive effect on career longevity, reducing generalized soreness, and injury prevention?
  • Can we measure the effect of different training programs (e.g. frequency of competing, time spent in the paddock, schedules, types of work, and so on) on performance, health and career longevity?
  • What are the evidence-based recommendations for giving elite sport horses a break from work (e.g. length, time of year, etc) depending on a horse’s individual characteristics?
  • Can we establish a data collection platform that will allow for the analysis and sharing of information between riders, vets, grooms, and therapists?
  • What is the effect of FEI stabling on stress, health and performance?

On Day 2, the group examined each research priority and developed specific research questions that were feasible to study. Answering each research question will have a significant impact on the health and performance of sport horses—answering all five priorities will be transformative for equestrian sports.

Read the full report here.

The Sport Horse Research Foundation seeks to advance and direct scientific research and education to enhance the health, athletic potential, and career longevity of sport horses. Contributions donated to the Sport Horse Research Foundation are fully tax-deductible and funds are used to support cutting-edge and impactful scientific studies.