Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shivering horses required

University of Minnesota researchers are looking for help to investigate the perplexing condition known as "Shivers"
"Shivers" or "Shivering" has been recognised since the heyday of working draft horses.

Even so, little is known about it. Now researchers, led by Dr Stephanie Valberg, at the University of Minnesota, want to put that right.  "We are trying to establish the cause of Shivers, if this condition is inherited, and if dietary therapy is effective."

A research project has been set up at University of Minnesota and the Neuromuscular Diagnostic Laboratory in conjunction with Dr John Baird of the Ontario Veterinary College.

The researchers are looking to collect data on as many Shivers cases as possible. Initially they hope to identify risk factors, and investigate the influence of factors such as gender, breed, diet, exercise, and infection on the development and progression of the disease.

If you want to be involved, and have a horse you know, or suspect, has shivers, the first step is to complete a survey and submit it, together with a video of the horse.

The researchers specify the format the video should follow to ensure that all relevant information is included.

Within three weeks of receipt, the researchers promise to send you a report which will tell you whether or not the horse is affected with the condition.

Confirmed "Shiverers" may then be invited to take part in further research. The plan is for a controlled trial in which the effect of diet on the condition can be examined. If you are chosen to take part in the further study, you will probably be asked to feed an experimental diet for the duration of the study.

Dr Valberg explains: "In our previous studies on conditions such as Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM) and Recurrent Exertional Rhabdomyolysis (RER), we have determined that certain dietary changes can be highly effective in alleviating symptoms of disease."   

It is hoped that dietary modifications may have a similar beneficial effect in Shivers.

Dr Valberg continues: "In the case of a diet trial, it would be necessary to have an additional, non-Shivers, horse participate in the trial who is approximately the same age and living in the same environment as the horse with Shivers. This is essential in conducting a controlled, viable study."   

For more details on how to take part in the research go to the shivers research website

For a comprehensive explanation of what is currently known about shivering visit the My Horse University webcast.

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