Equine research and clinical treatment to grow with $3 million gift

U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre will receive more than $3 million to continue developing its equine lameness prevention and diagnosis program.

The gift, from Loreto and Martin Hosking, will allow U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre to grow into an exemplar program that brings together research capability with cutting-edge diagnostic imaging facilities and clinical care.

The U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre is a critically important program within the Melbourne Veterinary School. Recognised globally for its work in equine lameness prevention and diagnosis, this contribution will bring still greater focus to the centre as a specialist referral clinic dedicated to these services for both performance and leisure horses and the racing industry.

The donation will provide funding for a specialist clinician position at the centre to grow its capability and capacity in the diagnosis and treatment of equine lameness.

It will also provide start-up funding of $500,000 to relaunch the U-Vet Werribee Equine Centre as a specialist referral clinic in equine lameness and to promote it as a unique resource.

The research conducted at the Equine Centre builds a catalogue of knowledge and clinical techniques that has the potential to benefit the wellbeing of performance and leisure horses and racehorses alike.

Highlights of its research output to date include identifying the types of exercise most damaging to bones and joints, the need to adapt the equine skeleton to the work it has to do and the benefit of periods of rest from high-intensity training.

Its next phase of research, funded by Racing Victoria, will explore new methods for assessing injury indicators in a horse’s stride, develop software for assessing limb injury risk in real time, and improving diagnostic imaging methods.

The program aims to deliver direct benefit to the Australian equestrian industry while changing the face of equine health and welfare, including the role that research and evidence play in animal health more broadly.

The Equine Centre provides the most advanced imaging and diagnostic equipment available, including radiology, ultrasound, scintigraphy, standing limb and head CT, and high field MRI. Its standing CT system – which allows horses to be imaged standing, under sedation, without the need for anaesthesia – is the first of its kind in Australia and only the third in the world.

Head of the Melbourne Veterinary School Professor Anna Meredith said that the Equine Centre has a long and rich history of conducting ground-breaking and high-impact collaborative research and development, which has resulted in significant improvements to equine health.

“This generous gift from the Hoskings will allow the Equine Centre to expand its research and clinical services to performance and leisure horses and thereby serve a larger portion of the equine community in Victoria,” Professor Meredith said.

Speaking about the donation, Loreto Hosking said: “We recognised the importance of the research and clinical services the Equine Centre undertakes. It impacts the local community, the veterinary community, and the research and higher education sectors – as well as the horses we love and care for – so it was important to us to support this work and our community.”

Loreto and Martin Hosking have previously been instrumental in establishing a Contemplative Studies Centre within the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences with a gift of $10 million.

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