What Bacteria Are in Your Horse's Gut?

Help Us with Our Microbiome Research!

Equine Microbiome Project

Thank you to all of our donors so far! Because of the amazing support of our community, we are increasing our goal to $9,000 to raise funds for 100 samples. If you have already made your gift, please help us spread the word - and let us know if you are interested in participating in our study.

Colic and laminitis are two of the most frightening diagnoses that a horse owner can face. Colic is the leading cause of death after old age, and laminitis causes irreversible lameness. Both conditions are associated with changes in the bacteria in the hindgut due to factors such as dietary disruption, seasonal changes, stress, or age, and both can be chronic, creating a management challenge for horse owners and veterinarians.

The Biddle Lab in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Delaware is tackling many of the fundamental questions behind the role of the bacteria in the horse gut (the gut microbiome) in health and disease. What is the "normal" gut microbiome for a healthy horse? Are the bacteria of 'easy keepers' different from 'hard keepers'? Are there differences between the gut bacteria of breeds that are prone to laminitis? How does the gut microbiome change as horses age?

Identifying the microbiome differences associated with health and disease is a necessary first step to designing therapies and/or interventions to restore balance and function to the digestive system of colicky or chronically laminitic horses.

In order to make these comparisons, we need samples from hundreds of horses, and this is where this project comes in.

The Equine Microbiome Project offers every horse owner the opportunity to join this important research, and learn about the microbiome of their own horse and how their horse's gut bacteria compares to others in the same breed, age, and gender group.

Will you make a gift today to help us with this research? With your support, we will be able to assemble and distribute sample kits to collect and analyze feces from horses all around the country.

Consider making a gift in one of the following amounts to help with this research:

  • $45 will cover half of the cost of 1 sample kit and analysis
  • $90 will cover the full cost of 1 sample kit and analysis
  • $180 will cover the full cost of 2 sample kits and analysis
  • $270 will cover the full cost of 3 sample kits and analysis

Our research will help restore balance and function to a horse's digestive system through new therapies and interventions to benefit horse owners and veterinarians' unanswered questions when dealing with affected horses.

Please help us tackle many of the fundamental questions behind the role of bacteria in a horse's gut by making a gift today!

Want to Participate in Our Study?

No contribution is required to participate; however, your support will allow us to send out even more samples, which will only benefit more participants since we will be able to broaden our base for comparison. If you would like to participate in the study without donating, contact us at asbiddle@udel.edu. You will be placed on a waiting list and will receive your kit as additional funds come in and are available. Thank you for helping with this valuable research!

How does it work?

1. Join our team by making a gift to the project at the level of your choice, or let us know your interest by emailing asbiddle@udel.edu.

2. We will get in touch and then send you complete sample kits. Each kit will have everything needed for sampling - complete instructions, postage paid return box, height and weight tape.

3. You fill out a survey about your horses' health status, history, and diet.

4. You collect a fecal sample and send it back to us.

5. We determine what bacteria are present using DNA sequencing.

6. We send a result summary that you can compare with other times or horses and share with your veterinarian.

7. As the numbers of samples grow, you can compare your horses' results with a growing database.

Additional Information:

Science is at the very edge of grasping the complex interactions between the gut microbiome and the host, especially with regards to the immune system and energy metabolism, and current popular literature is full of stories about human gut microbes and their impact on health.

Since the horse gut is especially sensitive to change in diet, stress, weather… and changes can precipitate potentially life threatening episodes of colic and/or laminitis, horse owners spend a great deal of time and energy tailoring management strategies for gut health. There are hundreds of feed formulations, probiotic preparations, vitamin/ mineral supplements on the market today, but little scientific evidence to show an effect on the gut microbiome of horses. Horse owners should be very interested in participating in a project to better understand the equine gut microbiome, but would have the added benefit of finding out what microbes are found in their own horse's gut. This profile could be compared with other, similar horses, and shared with veterinarians to develop targeted strategies for promoting digestive health and balance.

Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UDequinemicrobiomeproject.

Follow us on Twitter @EquineMicrobio.

Interested in supporting this project by mailing a check?
Make checks payable to "University of Delaware," note "Equine Microbiome Project Crowdfunding" in the notes section of the check, and mail to:

Development and Alumni Relations
Gifts Processing
University of Delaware
83 East Main Street, 3rd Floor
Newark, DE 19716

Purchase a monogrammed saddle pad to benefit the Equine Microbiome research project!

EMP saddle pad

10% of every Equine Microbiome Project saddle pad will go towards our project. If you're interested, please visit the website at www.so-southern.com or email Pat Nulis at pat@so-southern.com.

Thank you so much for your support!

Together We Can Make It Happen! Here's How:
100 Sample Kits ($75 per kit) $7,500
Cost of shipping, handling, and analysis ($15 per sample) $1,500
$6,780 Raised
75% towards $9,000 Goal

Supported by 47 Donations:

  • Evelyn K.
    I Gave $90
  • Sherri W.
    I Gave $90
    I want to participate in the study, I think it will be very interesting!
  • Silhouette
  • Kathi K.
    I Gave $45
    Kathi in Minnesota
  • Chris D.
  • JoAnne B.
    I Gave $90
    I am donating to help my horse recover from laminitis and return to his normal life as an athlete and a happy horse in a pasture.
  • Carol B.
    I Gave $25
  • Louisa E.
    Louisa E. '67
    I Gave $90
    I am happy to support such an interesting study!
  • Silhouette
  • Linda S.
    Linda S. '84
    I Gave $90
    I am so excited about this project and look forward to participating! Thank you Dr. Biddle and U.D.
  • Ruth P.
    I Gave $180
    Thank you for your efforts to find answers and help so many..
  • Ruth P.
    I Gave $90
    In Honor Of Our Joey
  • Pat N.
  • Sally H.
    I Gave $500
    On behalf of the resident horses at California Trace.
  • Patti G.
    I Gave $90
    Thank you for doing this research -- I hope this helps my gelding, Apache.
  • Susan  S.
    I Gave $90
    Hope to find out what I can do to help Booter Smith with his diarrhea.
  • Jaclyn  W.
    I Gave $180
  • Kathryn D.
    I Gave $90
    Such an exciting project.
  • Isabelle G.
    To encourage a great project!
  • Elizabeth A M.
    I Gave $100
    Thanks for doing this important work! I'm looking forward to hearing about your findings!
  • Kim  O.
    I Gave $90
    So glad people are caring enough about these beautiful creatures to help improve their health & their lives! Go Hailey!
  • Silhouette
    Anonymous '71
  • Kate M.
    Kate M. '08
    I Gave $500
    I lost my horse to colic and was haunted by how little we seem to know about chronic colicers. I'm so glad to see this research being done!
  • Ralph G.
    In honor of Hailey Siegel
  • jody  g.
    I Gave $90
    great work Amy !
  • Julia E.
    Julia E. '87
  • Sharon G.
    You are doing great work!
  • Silhouette
  • Katrine B.
    I Gave $90
    So exciting, Amy! Best of luck ~ XO Wick
  • I Could Do Great Things Foundation F.