The Fenway Foundation for Friesian Horses Partners with the
University of Kentucky and Wageningen University to Research Friesian Genetics
The Fenway Foundation for Friesian Horses, at the request of the KFPS, is about to embark on a research program that could have a positive impact on the lives of Friesian horses and their owners around the world. Fenway is incredibly fortunate to be partnering with researchers at the famed Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky and Wageningen University in The Netherlands. But they aren’t just common researchers, they might be the most prestigious genetic research team in North America, if not the world. Kathryn Graves, PhD, Ernest Bailey, PhD and Theodore S Kalbfleisch, PhD from the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky and Dr. B. J. Ducro at Wageningen University make up the Gluck/Wageningen/Fenway Friesian Genetic Research Initiative. Fenway and every Friesian owner in the world is blessed to have this team to study our beloved horses.
So, what are we researching? The genetic research team is going to work towards unlocking the genetic code that causes the megaesophagus and aortic rupture genetic flaw in our Friesian horses. Our goal is the development of a genetic test that will assist in breeding decisions and hopefully over time eliminate this debilitating and sometimes fatal genetic flaw in our horses both young and old.
The Friesian community is acquainted with Fenway, but we do want to take this opportunity to introduce the genetic research team that will be working towards the ultimate goal of solving the genetic issues that impact the Friesian breed.
Kathryn Graves, PhD
After completing her doctorate degree at Cornell University, Kathryn Graves joined the University of Kentucky in 1986 to expand the new Horse Blood Typing Lab established by Dr. Ernest Bailey. In 2001 DNA testing began to replace blood typing for parentage verification and the lab became the Animal Genetic Testing and Research Lab. In 2005 Dr. Graves became the director of the program and in 2008 the lab was moved to the Gluck Equine Research Center where it was renamed the Genetic Testing Lab at Gluck. Genetic discoveries at Gluck are incorporated into tests offered by the laboratory. The lab also has its own research program and Dr. Graves discovered the mutation responsible for JEB (Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa) in the American Saddlebred Horse. She bred, trained and showed American Quarter Horses for 30 years and now enjoys breeding, training and showing Boston Terriers.
Ernest Bailey, PhD
Ernest Bailey earned his PhD in genetics at the University of California, Davis, then joined the faculty at the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky. He and his students study genetics and genomics of horses including development of the gene map and genome sequence as well as discovery of genes responsible for coat color traits and diseases in horses. He is the coordinator of the USDA-NRSP8 program for the horse genome, past president of the International Society for Animal Genetics and has served on the editorial boards of several journals for veterinary science and genetics. During his career he published over 160 scientific articles and a book entitled “Horse Genetics” (CABI publisher).
Theodore (Ted) Kalbfleisch, PhD
Theodore (Ted) Kalbfleisch, PhD, joined the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center in 2019. His work focuses on a secondary analysis of equid genomes and transcriptomes.Previously an associate professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Kalbfleisch earned his doctorate in physical chemistry from Boston University and his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UofL. He is originally from Louisville.
Dr. Kalbfleisch brings an international reputation in equine bioinformatics and a wealth of technical expertise to this project. In 2018 he was the first author on the paper describing the updated reference genome (EquCab3.0) for the horse.
Dr. B. J. (Bart) Ducro, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Additionally, the KFPS will work with researchers in Europe to supply our team with appropriate genetic material from affected candidates in that substantially larger Friesian population. Very fortunately, Dr. Bart Ducro from Wageningen University will be joining the team from the The Netherlands. Dr. Ducro is an assistant professor at the Animal Breeding and Genomics Group of Wageningen University.
He has a background in quantitative genetics and within his group is involved in research and teaching horse breeding and genetics. His research includes breeding values for sport and health traits, genetic diversity (inbreeding) within and across horse breeds as well as some genomics studies (GWAS, Genomic Selection).
Together with Ids Hellinga, Executive Director of the KFPS, they have done quite a few projects on Friesian Horses, including development of DNA-tests for dwarfism and hydrocephalus. He has previously been involved in the research on aorta rupture and megaoesophagus as well.
This research program will require DNA samples from very specific affected and control candidates. We will publish those requirements in the very near future and look forward to cooperation by the Friesian community in finding those candidates and submitting appropriate samples. Fortunately, and encouraging is that many blood samples frozen for both horses with aortic rupture and megaesophagus have been collected and are now stored in The Netherlands.
The advantage? This initiative my not have to wait for new samples to be collected. But as the program moves forward, more specific samples may be requested from the Friesian community.
Fenway, the genetic research team at Gluck, Wageningen, the KFPS hope the entire Friesian community are excited at the prospect of solving these genetic issues and insuring an enduring Friesian breed for our children, grandchildren and beyond.
More to come!!!
The Fenway Foundation for Friesian Horses is excited to announce the addition of Angie DePuydt to our team. Angie comes to Fenway with an incredible amount of passion, drive and experience in the Friesian breed. Her enthusiasm and hunger to learn will be of great benefit to Team Fenway, but more importantly the magnificent Friesian Horse. Angie will be Fenway’s Education and Research Liaison.
Angie’s reaction to becoming a member of Team Fenway was expressed in the following statement. “I am incredibly honored to join the Fenway team! I have a
profound appreciation for the work the foundation has done in the Friesian community and the lives of the many horses they have touched. I am grateful for
the opportunity to contribute more to our community in the areas I am personally most passionate about – education, genetic research and rescue of the Friesian horse.”
Angie joins Jamie Van Linn, Fenway’s Equine Manager and Rescue/Surrender Liaison and Dr. Sue Stidham Gillen, Fenway’s Veterinary Health and Well Being
Wellcome to the Fenway Family!
Scott and Shelley Kelnhofer
The Fenway Foundation for Friesian Horses was honored to present the 2019 Fenway Foundation Charitable Awards at the recent FHANA AGM in Lexington, KY. The 2019 winners were Danielle Piascik and Maddi’s Friesian Ranch. This year’s winners represented not only what we as humans can do to help the Friesian horse, but what the Friesian horse can do for us.
Danielle and Justin Piascik acquired one of four severely neglected Friesians in early 2019, providing a nurturing and loving environment to give him the strength and love that he was lacking all of his life. Presented at the keuring just nine months later, he received a third premie from the judges.
Maddi’s Friesian Farm owners Ruth Page and Greg Walsh have opened their ranch and provided their time, energy and financial support to work closely with Between Horses and Humans Organization so that children and young adults struggling with difficult life situations and emotional, social and personal issues may experience the magic and healing of being in partnership with a Friesian horse.
Congratulations once again and our hope is that you help inspire others to do the same!
Photo from left to right: Shelley Kelnhofer, Danielle Piascik, Justin Piascik, Greg Walsh, Ruth Page and Scott Kelnhofer
Exciting New Changes for the Fenway Foundation!
Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another door opens.” In the restructuring of the Fenway Foundation for Friesian Horses, a door closed but two and maybe more doors of opportunity have opened. Behind the first door is the development of the Fenway Research and Rescue Fund (FRRF). Seed money in the amount of $50,000 will be placed ANNUALLY in a fund that will be used to finance research to improve the lives of our beloved Friesians. Any donations received from the community will be placed directly into this fund as a portion of our continuing investment in the Friesian breed.
With regard to research, an initial amount of $15,000 has been sent to the University at Ghent for continued research on our magnificent Friesian Horses. Dr. Catherine Delesalle heads up the research team at Ghent. Many of you already know Dr. Delesalle from the 2014 FHANA AGM in Seattle. Her team assisted in the development of the Dwarfism and Hydrocephalous genetic testing. They were also instrumental in the unlocking of the
Collagen/Elastin issue within our breed. We are very confident that these dollars will pay dividends that will benefit Friesian horses and their owners around the world. (See the attached article from the researchers at Ghent.)
Those dollars address research, the additional monies have been set aside for the rescuing of Friesians within the United States and Canada. Last year Fenway dealt in the rescuing/rehoming of ten full-blooded Friesian horses. Many times, the rescuing required dramatic lifesaving surgery that owners were unable to afford. In those cases, Fenway would assume the ownership, finance the surgery and either personally rehabilitate or find an appropriate caregiver to assist in the recovery of the affected Friesian. Fenway would then find a forever loving home for that horse. Fenway would continue that owner/partnership to ensure the horse continued to thrive and be given the best life possible.
Additionally, Fenway would like to introduce our new veterinary health and wellbeing advisor, Dr. Susan Stidham Gillen. Her credentials are impressive. She has been in private equine veterinary practice for 36 years, with emphasis on equine reproduction, Internal medicine, lameness, injuries, and emergency medicine. Dr. Gillen been active in AAEP and served on the Educational programs committee and as Moderator on the serve list. She
has also served on the Large Animal Advisory Board at UCDavis, as well as the student selection committee. Dr. Gillen will be able to assist Friesian owners throughout the United States and Canada by offering advice when called through her connections within Fenway. Since Dr. Gillen is not a direct employee of Fenway, medical inquires will be directly through the Fenway Foundation.
Fenway is confident that with these changes within the Foundation we will continue to positively influence the lives of God’s most noble creature, the magnificent Friesian horse. We very much appreciate the Friesian community’s continued financial and emotional support, along with their encouragement.
We are so very grateful to the Fenway foundation for this donation. Thanks in part to this contribution, we can further strengthen our work as a representative to improve welfare, health and prosperity of this magnificent breed.
The research group of Professor Delesalle focuses on exercise Physiology with focus on the gut-muscle-brain axis, leading to new insights into optimization of fuel use during exercise, thermoregulation, neurophysiology and rehabilitation. All research is performed from a comparative perspective, which means research across human and animal species and within these species across breeds. This approach provides a solid view on how diseases develop and manifest themselves. It also helps creating a view on breed specific features and disorders.
Our team is established at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Ghent University in Belgium. Our Faculty holds the first position in the World Shanghai Ranking of Veterinary Universities.
The team plays a leading role in unraveling the pathophysiological background of aortic rupture and megaesophagus in the Friesian horse and has created since many years, a research consortium between the Ghent, Utrecht and Wageningen Universities in close cooperation with the Dutch Royal Friesian Studbook and The Wolvega Equine Clinic in the Netherlands. In this way we have a continuous view on what happens within the Friesian breed when it comes to not only diseases but also performance capacity. Our goal is not only to focus on disease, but also to provide Friesian horse owners with proper advice on how to optimize health, training and welfare in their horses.
In the past, we have carried out large-scale epidemiological studies for mapping out aortic rupture and mega-esophagus in Friesian horses. We have developed an Innovative diagnostic approach to visualize aortic rupture. Recently we have conducted studies to obtain an unique view on the energy metabolism of the Friesian horse which helps us to formulate proper training and nutritional advice. We are unique in the world when it comes to research in the Friesian breed in all 3 areas (aortic rupture, megaesophagus and training) and are enormously grateful for this donation that supports us in continuing with our efforts to improve welfare, health and prosperity of this magnificent breed.
Thank you to the Fenway Foundation for Friesian Horses!
The Fenway Foundation is disappointed to announce the departure of Dr. Kathy Fox from the Foundation. We appreciate everything that Dr. Fox has done for the Foundation and the Friesian community. The Foundation sincerely wishes Dr. Fox the very best in the future.
In spite of Dr. Fox’s departure, there will be no lapse in our ability to continue to offer both professional, practical and veterinary advice to assist Friesian owners in caring for their beloved Friesian horses. Our contact numbers remain 888-838-0877 (toll free) or 920-585-3244. We look forward to helping our fellow Friesian owners whenever or wherever we can.
The Fenway Foundation for Friesian Horses
Sponsored by the Fenway Foundation
If you wanted to learn more about your Friesian horse, then this year’s AGM certainly was an educational opportunity for anyone that was lucky enough to attend. There were nine guest speakers covering topics including dressage, saddle fitting, and driving and health topics in the areas of nutrition, genetics, orthopedics and research. KFPS Executive Director, Ids Hellinga, provided us with an update as to the direction the KFPS is taking for the future.
The Fenway Foundation For Friesian Horses sponsored the speakers that focused on health related topics. The speakers were as follows:
Dr. Kory Niswender – Breeding Friesian Mares (Photo credit:Jason Tice)
Dr. Kory Niswender, an equine reproduction specialist at Equine Reproductive Services in Weatherford, TX, took part in the educational program for Saturday. Dr. Niswender took us through the process of breeding the mare as well as a discussion of embryo transfer. He stressed the key points where breeding the Friesian mare is different from the light breed mare, outlining his protocols that lead to his success with Friesian mares.
Karen Davison, PhD – Giving Young Horses the Best Chance to Become Sound Adults(Photo credit:Jason Tice)
Dr. Karen Davison, an equine nutritionist and Sales Support Manager with Purina Animal Nutrition opened up the educational program on Sunday. She focused on the importance of feeding the young growing horse, beginning by emphasizing the impact that correct nutrition of the broodmare can have on the resulting foal. She discussed topics like body scoring and the importance of the correct levels of protein in the horse’s diet.
Dr. Reese Hand – Osteochondrosis: Myths and Truths (Photo credit:Jason Tice)
Dr. Reese Hand, an equine veterinarian and board certified surgeon with Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery of Weatherford, TX, spoke next with a focus on Osteochondrosis. He defined further the term osteochondrosis and went on to explain the difference between osteochondrosis dessicans and subchondral bone cysts. Radiographs helped to show us what these lesions look like and where they are most likely to be found. Causes and treatment were discussed as well as some guidelines for prevention.
Dr. Gus Colthran, PhD – Genetic Diversity and Health in the Friesian Horse (Photo credit:Jason Tice)
The last guest speaker was Dr. Gus Cothran, a clinical professor at Texas A & M University with a special interest in equine genetic defects and their impact on breeds with a small population. He stressed the importance of identifying these genetic issues and breeding responsibly so that horses are not excluded from reproducing in an already limited genetic pool. He touched on topics such as genetic drift, factors that influence population size and the impact that a single stallion can have with respect to a genetic mutation and the appearance of a recognized disease in a population
The video presentations of the five health related topics can be found under the “Education/Links” tab of the Foundation’s website. We thank all the speakers for their time and expertise.