The first part of our two-part study is aimed at describing and determining the timing of the motor development of foals in their first three weeks of life. The second part defines the development of learning and temperament in young foals. Both studies include both healthy and sick foals: the healthy ones help us determine the milestones of normal development, while the focus in the case of affected foals is on developmental delays and abnormalities. At the moment, knowledge on foal development, developmental disorders in particular, is very limited.
Research can provide valuable information that can be taken into consideration with regard to, for example, the handling and training of different kinds of horses. Developmental delays can affect the horse’s future. Consequently, the earlier the issue can be addressed and the required support measures initiated, the better the prognosis is for the horse in competitive and domestic use.
The study investigates the effect of physiotherapy and high-flow oxygen therapy on the symptoms of pneumonic foals. These therapies are used routinely in humans in conjunction with respiratory diseases but have been studied in animals to an extremely limited degree and used in animals only rarely. The aim is to use the results to develop the rehabilitation and treatment of foals with respiratory diseases: both methods are non-invasive and could improve the care of foals if found effective. As a result, the therapies can improve the viability of foals and their quality of life.
In the second part of the study, the reliability of the pulse oximeter on foals will be tested. If the device is found to be a reliable way of measuring oxygen saturation in the blood of foals, the study will provide a new real-time and non-invasive measurement method for monitoring the condition of foals, for example, in conjunction with physiotherapy.
The respiratory physiotherapy research project is funded by the Academy of Finland.