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Rehabilitative Legwear for Horses: A Worldwide Collaboration

As an equestrienne and budding scientist, I can think of no better way to spend a year than working towards a Master’s in Comparative Biomedical Sciences. I know, this doesn’t initially scream “horses,” but in my case, it certainly did. After my first year of veterinary school, I took the opportunity to work with Dr. Carl Kirker-Head to design and test novel rehabilitative legwear for horses who have sustained tendon and ligament injuries of the lower limb. The study has been funded by HOSSO, Inc., a start-up company based in Providence, RI. Through careful scientific testing, grueling data analysis, and our wonderful team of horses who helped us test the product, we have created something that I feel will revolutionize the rehabilitative programs of injured horses of all disciplines and levels of competition. By mechanically limiting fetlock extension, our legwear will provide a controlled return to function, thereby avoiding re-injury and speeding return to soundness.

Brenna Pugliese with her 24-year-old Arabian gelding, Robbie (left), and her mom's Arabian gelding, Noble (right).

Brenna with her 24-year-old Arabian gelding, Robbie (left), and her mom’s Arabian gelding, Noble (right).

In the last six months I have been fortunate to present our work at the European College of Veterinary Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting in Berlin, Germany, as well as at the American College of Veterinary Surgeons Surgery Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. A year ago I would never have imagined taking the podium as a second year veterinary student to speak to a room full of veterinarians. Not only was I able to share the benefits of our legwear with interested professionals from around the world, but also I was able to address their questions and gain valuable insight from our interactions. Promoting the health of our horses will take innovation and collaboration; two things that Cummings School excels at. I’m proud to be a horsewoman working to make a global difference in the lives of our equine athletes through science and a little bit of ingenuity.

 

Brenna Pugliese, V18, successfully defended her MS thesis this summer. She gave an excellent presentation entitled, “Rehabilitative Legwear for Flexor Apparatus Injuries in the Equine Athlete,” and answered numerous questions with confidence. Dr. Carl Kirker-Head was Brenna’s mentor, and Drs. Andy Hoffman and Melissa Mazan served as her committee members. Brenna is the sixteenth veterinary student to complete the one-year NIH-supported training program leading to an MS degree. The MS in CBS program is directed by Dr. Bob Bridges.

Brenna has ridden extensively on the New England Arabian horse show circuit  in the junior and amateur divisions, garnering regional titles across a range of disciplines. Since being in vet school, she has explored other interests such as trail riding with her retired show horse, practicing yoga, and enjoying time with her Boston Terrier.