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Saskatchewan’s Haley Franc Wins Individual Gold Medals at 2012 NAJYRC

July 26, 2012, Ottawa, ON - Haley Franc of Prince Albert, SK, won the gold medal in the Junior Riders Individual Final in Reining on July 21 at the 2012 Adequan FEI North American Junior Young Rider Champi- onships. The Championships, presented by Gotham North, were held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.

Who Lives in Your Horse’s House?

OVC researcher, Dr. Scott Weese is going boldly forward- looking into what has been referred to as the “sec- ondgenome” by looking at the microbial residents of a horse’s gut. When you consider that a horse is thought to have 100 times more bacterial cells in its intestinal tract than ‘horse’ cells in its entire body, the scope of this secondgenome becomes apparent. New and innovative technology recently developed to study this area is simply ground- breaking. One major break- through has been the develop- ment of ‘next generation sequencing’. The University of Guelph was the first laboratory in Canada to obtain a new next gen- eration sequencing system, the Roche JS Junior. With the equip- ment and technology to perform Next Generation Sequencing, and the expertise present at the University in equine infectious diseases, the horse industry stands to reap the benefits. Currently, diagnosis for dis- eases pertaining to gut function is difficult, mainly because little is known about the gut in health or disease. For example, even with severe diarrhea (colitis), a cause

Photo: Haley Franc of Prince Albert, SK, won the gold medal in the Junior Riders Individual Final in Reining on July 21 at the 2012 Adequan FEI North American Junior Young Rider Championships riding Jacs Shy Boy. Photo - Waltenberry Inc.

Franc, riding Jacs Shy Boy, her own eight-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, posted a score of 212.00 for her run, which was five marks higher than the silver medalist, Amer- ican Stephen Timberlake.

“My horse was just so great, and I am still processing the fact that we won,” said 14-year-old Franc. “There are no words to explain the feeling of winning. It is like nothing I have ever experienced.” “It was also so nice to be able to see all the other disciplines competing,” added Franc. “The experience here at the Champi- onships has been amazing.”

“To have met such a great young adult with the willingness to listen, try and learn from a stranger was a once in a lifetime experience from a coach’s perspective,” said Harvey Stevens, who coached Franc for a couple of days at the Championships. “It was great to have had a chance to work with Haley and to have it turn out the way it did.” Chef d’équipe, Wendy Dyer also added, “Haley has been a very poised and focused young lady all week, and I had a feeling she was more than capable of win- ning the gold medal, but then all the young athletes were as equally as qualified to be on top of the podium. I am extremely proud of the whole team-all great ambassadors for Canada”

In addition to Franc winning gold in the Junior Riders Individual Final, Emily Birch of La Salle, MB, riding Sunup Dun It, her 12-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, were fourth, posting a score of 204.00. Fifth place was awarded to Micaela Maharaj of Oak Bluff, MB, who earned a score of 200.50 riding her 13-year-old Quarter Horse geld- ing, Fancy Footprint.

In the Young Rider Individual Final, Megan Robinson of Dufresne, MB, finished in fourth place riding Sheza Smart Cookie, her six-year-old Quarter Horse mare, with a score of 209.00.

Complete results are available at

For additional information on the Canadian Reining Committee and its pro- grams, including selection criteria, please visit the Reining section of the Equine Cana- da website at or e-mail About Equine Canada

For more information about Equine Canada, please visit

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is only identified in 30 - 40 % of horses. Next Generation Sequencing will allow researchers to explore huge com- ponents of DNA and assess many bacteria at once (between 70 - 100,000 in one fecal sample). This is a giant leap forward from traditional molecular diagnostic methods which are very time consuming and look at only one sequence of DNA at a time, and an astronomical advance from traditional culture-based meth- ods. “We are looking at faster and better ways to diagnose dis- ease” says Weese, “Little is known about gut content - If we can figure out what the gut nor- mally looks like we can figure out ways to treat and prevent dis- ease. There are several types of bacteria in the gut we don’t even have a name for yet.”

Through studying the com- plex bacterial population of the gut, which is comprised of tril- lions of bacteria and up to 1000 different bacterial species, Dr. Weese will be examining the components that are critical to health. There is more evidence now drawing links between gut function and a healthy immune system or metabolic diseases,

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and even potentially obesity and cancer. “There is a huge potential impact because the bacterial population is so complex and it is interacting with the body” says Weese. “We are trying to sort out what goes on, what bugs are present, how they interact, how they change and how we can potentially change them.” Better under- standing of gut flora will provide impor- tant information regarding effective feed conversion and could have applications for diagnostics surrounding colitis, diar- rhea, and colic and lead to better preven- tion methods. Results could lay the foun- dations for future applications using pro- biotics to improve gut health. Intestinal disease is a common problem in the horse, ranging from mild colic to rapidly fatal

colitis (severe diarrhea). The gut microflora is probably involved in various other more common conditions such as gas colic and pasture-associated laminitis, so an understanding of what happens in those conditions may be useful to help determine better ways to prevent them. Imagine the cost savings to the industry if new ways to prevent colic (the number 2 killer right behind old age) could be iden- tified, saving owners from expensive treatment and potentially saving horses lives. Using Next Generation Sequencing to better identify what bacteria are living in the horses’ gut and how they interact could change how the next generation uses diagnostics.

Story by: Jackie Bellamy

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