Owner/rider Deanne Prusak shares her experience enrolling her horse in a clinical trial

The equine veterinary world is filled with research studies, new product developments and abundant opportunities to improve the life of horses in large and small ways. Have you ever considered participating in a clinical trial or wondered what it is like to participate in one?

Deanne Prusak was faced with that opportunity and decided to participate in a clinical trial when her competitive trail horse, an 8-year-old Arabian, TA Kaiser+, came up lame at a NATRC ride in Louisiana in March 2015. After multiple treatments failed to resolve the situation, Prusak decided to participate in a clinical trial and she shared her experience for Sound Science.

Q- Tell us about your clinical trial experience

A- Overall the experience of participating in the study was positive. It was exciting to be part of new research on a product that might help my horse. I was put under no pressure to do it or stay in it if I could not follow the protocol. I would do it again.

Q- How did you come to decide on going the clinical trial route?

A- Kaiser vetted out lame in the left hind and my local vet did a series of nerve blocks that isolated the pain to his hock. X-rays revealed minor arthritic changes. The hock joint was injected with a hyaluronic acid and steroid mix, but on recheck a month later he was still lame. When injectable Osphos brought no relief, I went to Texas A&M Veterinary Teaching Hospital for an evaluation and MRI, which revealed severe arthritis in both hocks and bone edema in the left hock. 

Dr. Marsh told me about Dr. Ashlee Watt’s hock study. I met with Dr. Watts and she explained that they would inject the joint with corticosteroids and give me a supplement to feed him over the course of four months. The supplement would be either a placebo or a product they were testing. It would be revealed at the four month re-check which he had been given. In the meantime I could bring him home and ride him as normal.

As a scientist myself, I was intrigued by the research and agreed to participate.  The only drawback was the study did not allow for any other type treatment or injections other than corticosteroid. However, my expenses were covered for the joint injection and lameness exam which included the Lameness Locator, but not the original MRI which was the expensive part of his diagnosis. 

Q- After you took Kaiser home, what happened during the four months of the trial?

A- During the four month period before his re-check, I did not compete him. I mostly rode him at home working on his dressage and did some pleasure trail rides.  He was not consistently sound during this period, especially after a hard work out riding in the hills, he was often stiff the next day. After a couple of weeks, I was contacted to update Dr. Watts on his progress and I was contacted again about a month later for another update.

In August 2015, I returned for his re-check. There was mild improvement, but he was still lame. It was revealed he had been on the placebo. They re-injected the joint with corticosteroids and gave me the real product to try. The product was Equithrive® Joint which contained resveratrol. This marked the official end of the study, but Dr Watts asked me to contact her in a few weeks to update her on his condition.

Over the next few weeks he successfully competed at dressage shows and NATRC rides. There was a still an occasional stiffness, but in the months afterwards, he became consistently sound. Six months after his last joint injection, I brought him back to Dr. Watts for a re-check after I started detecting lameness again. He showed a mild and consistent lameness on the left hind, but it was greatly improved from the August visit.  It was suggested the hocks be re-injected as the last injection seemed to be wearing off.  Since he was no longer in the study, we were able to inject with corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid.

Six months later (a year after starting resveratrol), I brought him back to Dr. Watts to see if she thought he needed to be re-injected again in preparation for the fall season of competitions. She said he was completely sound and never looked better and there was no need to re-inject. A few weeks later, I competed him at the AHA Distance Nationals in a 70-mile competitive trail ride over two days. He was completely sound and won Reserve Champion. It was a huge achievement for me. He also earned his Legion of Honor (thus the + in his name). 



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