"The orthopedic part of equine research really interests me because musculoskeletal injuries are one of the main reasons that performance horses are retired," said Pat Dumont, a long-time horse enthusiast whose horses have competed in hunter jumper shows for many years. "It's a long road to get a horse ready for the show ring, and there's a lot of money and a lot of heartbreak when things go wrong."
Pat anticipates that the new fund will help researchers answer important questions about lameness issues that will provide horse owners with new strategies for keeping performance horses sound throughout their competitive careers.
The research will be conducted by WCVM researchers along with collaborating scientists from across Canada and around the world. An external committee, whose members are involved in equine research at other universities, is responsible for reviewing and selecting one or more projects that will be supported by the fund. The committee will make its first selection later this year.
Dr. Douglas Freeman, dean of the WCVM, said the fund will provide scientists with the opportunity to make significant contributions to the equine industry's understanding of horse health and its approach to diagnosing and treating orthopedic issues.
"Mark and Pat DuMont have been very supportive of our veterinary college's equine health program and researchers over the past decades, and their latest gift demonstrates their desire to improve the lives and welfare of horses around the world," said Freeman.
"Our hope is that other western Canadian horse owners will follow their lead and develop similar initiatives that support vital horse health research projects."
The newly established fund will complement the WCVM's Equine Health Research Fund (EHRF) which was established in 1977 to support equine health research at the college. The fund provides support for research projects as well as for research fellowships, summer research and undergraduate student learning opportunities.
Over the past 25 years, the DuMonts have annually supported the EHRF, and Pat was a long-time member of the research fund's advisory board.
"Funding equine research has always been something that both Mark and I are interested in. We decided it was just time to set some funds aside and work on supporting orthopedic research—an area that's important to both of us."
She is also hopeful that the fund will inspire other members of the horse community to support equine research and to become more knowledgeable about ways to keep their animals healthy.