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Former University of Limerick student Declan Ryan is the first male winner of the RASE (Royal Agricultural Society of England) Eqvalan Duo Equine Thesis of the Year Award.

Declan, who has just finished a BSc in equine science, proved that sex and age affect blood parameters in Irish thoroughbred (TB) horses.

“We had racehorses at home before I started college and carried out blood tests to query poor performance,” said Declan.

“This started my interest in haematology and it had been more than 20 years since a study had been made of the normal values for a healthy horse.”

He used data collected over five years at the Irish Equine Centre in Naas, Co Kildare, whittling 37,254 blood tests into a sample set of 435, to generate a set of normal ranges for Irish TBs.

His research showed significant differences between the level of platelets in the blood of foals and adult horses, and levels of components such as protein, potassium and globulin in the blood of males and females.

Chief judge Dr Emma Batson said: “Declan’s work is very thoroughly researched.

“It is important for people to know what is normal for their horse and it has tremendous relevance for vets.”

Declan received his £500 prize on 12 November from the RASE offices in Stoneleigh Park.

Runner-up was Rebecca Mundy of Writtle College, whose dissertation also focused on Irish TBs, looking at recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis and possible dietary risk factors for the condition.

This article was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound, 25 November ’10