Participation in Muscle Disease in Horses Study

COVID-19 UPDATE: In adherence to the University of Minnesota and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID-19, our lab members will be teleworking until further notice. Your packages will be received at our loading dock and mailbox, but will remain there until collected by a lab member on a weekly basis. This means you can continue to send your hay, grain, and supplement samples, however, please send hair roots instead of blood samples for the next few weeks.You can also continue to fill out our Muscle Disease in Horses survey and upload files to Dropbox if you haven’t already during this time. 

Thank you for your interest in participating in our Muscle Disease in Horses study!

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to provide a deeper understanding of the genetic and management factors influencing muscle disease in horses. Your help is essential in making this unparalleled study happen and in advancing equine muscle disease research. Overall, the results of this study will help to support veterinarians, researchers, and horse owners in developing treatment strategies for muscle disease in individual horses.

Please note: You are very welcome to submit multiple surveys if you have more than one (1) case/affected horse on your property that also has a control/unaffected horse for comparison. You must provide photos, videos, medical records, and hair roots/blood samples for however many horses you decide to include.

Below is detailed information on what is requested from you in this study. Please read it all carefully. For your horse(s) to be considered in this study we will need all information requested below:

Part 1

Provide information (i.e., registration, diet, medical tests, etc.) for a case/affected horse on your property in the Muscle Disease in Horses Survey. This can be a horse that you either suspect has a muscle disease or has been diagnosed with a muscle disease.

Part 2

Provide the same information in the Muscle Disease in Horses survey for a control/unaffected horse on your property. This horse must be of similar age and breed to the case/affected horse, with no suspected muscle disease. The control/unaffected horse must also be kept under similar management conditions to the case/affected horse. In order to understand all the components that could cause or worsen muscle disease in horses, a control/unaffected horse in good condition that inhabits the same property is needed to provide us with a standard to compare to the case/affected horse’s condition.

IMPORTANT: Part 1 and Part 2 are combined in a single survey to ensure that we have a control/unaffected horse as a comparison for your case/affected horse. The survey contains 87 to 233 questions, based on the condition of your horses. It will take you approximately 1 hour to complete. If you need to stop the survey for any reason, you may return to it by following the survey link. Your answers will remain where you left off so long as you have not cleared your browser history and you are using the same computer and browser (i.e. Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer) as when you first started the survey. If you do not return to the survey within 14 days from the last time you accessed it, you will have to restart the survey. Therefore, please make sure you review our Owner Checklist before starting the survey.

Part 3

Submit photos, videos, and medical record attachments for both your case/affected and control/unaffected horses via Dropbox. This is an entirely private and secure method for us to receive and review your attachments. Your files will not be shared with anyone outside our research team.

Photos should include:

  • Photo of each horse from the left side.
  • Photo of each horse from the hind side.
  • Photo of each horse's neck.
  • Photo of each horse from the right side.
  • Photo of your case/affected horse(s) tying-up, if available.
  • Photo of your horses' permanent tattoo number / freeze brand, if applicable.
  • File formats: JPEG/JPG, PNG, TIFF.

Videos should include (example video):

  • Video of each horse walking away and towards the camera about 50 yards.
  • Video of each horse trotting away and towards the camera about 50 yards.
    • Please be sure to have your horse trot for at least half this distance each way.
  • Video of each horse trotting in a wide circle or lunging, with a direction change halfway through to see both sides of the horse.
    • This can also be two separate videos of the horse trotting/lunging in opposite directions.
  • Video of each horse turning in a small circle, with a direction change halfway through to see both sides of the horse.
    • This can also be two separate videos of the horse turning in opposite directions.
  • Video of each horse walking backwards (approximately 4 to 6 steps).
  • Video of your case/affected horse(s) tying-up, if available.
  • File formats: AVI, MP4.

Medical records should include:

  • Muscle biopsy results for each horse, if available.
  • Genetic testing results for each horse, if available.
  • Blood work results with creatine kinase (CK) and aspartate transaminase (AST) values for the case/affected horse(s), if available.
  • File format: PDF. 

These attachments will be reviewed by a veterinarian on our team to assess any clinical signs your horse(s) is experiencing. We will use the information you provide in the survey, in addition to the veterinarian’s expertise, to better understand the specifics of the muscle disease in your case/affected horse. 

Upon completion of the survey, you will receive an email immediately titled "Survey Response ID and Response Summary" from the Equine Genetics and Genomics Laboratory. This email will contain your Response ID with links to Dropbox and the Participant Instructions page as well as your recorded responses from the survey. In order for us to keep track of your submissions to Dropbox, you must include this Response ID and your horse's barn name in the file names of your photos, videos, and medical records before uploading them to Dropbox.

Part 4

Collect and mail in samples for both your case/affected and control/unaffected horses. Instructions for collecting and mailing in your hay, grain, supplements (USA participants only), and hair roots/blood samples are below:

United States of America (USA) participants:

International participants:

You may choose to send in either a hair roots sample or a blood sample. If you choose to submit a blood sample, you will need help from your veterinarian. Please mail in hair roots/blood samples for each horse from the survey with a sample submission sheet for your case/affected horse and a sample submission sheet for your control/unaffected horseWhen you are sending samples, please send us an email with the tracking number and items you sent to eggl-muscledis@umn.edu ASAP.

If you are shipping samples from outside the USA, please see How to Ship Samples Internationally with Import Permit.

These hair root and blood samples will be used to genotype your horses for both known and potential muscle disease genes. In other words, your samples will enable us to determine whether your horses are carrying a muscle disease gene(s) that alone, or in combination, could be responsible for the clinical signs and which also could be passed on to offspring. We will also use this information along with the clinical signs from your photos/videos and medical records to better characterize the clinical signs associated with each genetic form of muscle disease.

Participation

If you choose to participate, please be mindful to submit all the requested information above. All information you provide and results in this study will be kept confidential. Participation is completely voluntary and you may withdraw at any time.

If you have further questions, please visit our FAQs page. For questions not answered there, please email the Equine Genetics and Genomics Laboratory at eggl-muscledis@umn.edu.

For instructions to Part 3 and Part 4, please visit the Participant Instructions.