The United Kingdom has something we Americans don't have: a thesis competition for equine science majors at universities.
Soraya Morscher from University of Limerick in Ireland is the 2007 winner of the Eqvalan Equine Thesis of the Year competition, sponsored by Merical. She reported her research into records of 1297 foalings over 13 years at a stud farm in Kildare. This data study was a much larger analysis than has ever been attempted before.
"Considering the economic value of Thoroughbred foals, there is precious little information about what are considered 'normal' foalings," she said.
Her winning thesis: "An Analysis of Peri-Parturient and Postnatal Events in Thoroughbreds", was selected from research theses submitted by universities in the UK and Ireland.
Soraya's research showed that 83 per cent of births took place during the night; the average duration of foaling was 34 minutes with 93 per cent completed within an hour; and the interval from birth to nursing averaged 92 minutes, but was longer for first foaling mares and longer for colt foals than fillies.
Soraya has just started a two year Masters degree in Equine Science.
This competition, which is run by the Royal Agricultural Society of England and sponsored by Merial Animal Health, is open to every agricultural and equine university and college in the UK.
Second prize winner was Hannah Snart of Nottingham Trent University for her huge survey of injuries of dressage horses on different training surfaces. Among Hannah's findings was that sand-only surface had the greatest injury risk. However, she found that this risk reduced the more a horse used the surface.
The winner of the 2006 award was Rachel Kay from Nottingham Trent University for her thesis titled "The Effect of Creating Surrogate Companionship on Physiology and Behavior of Horses During Transportation".