A ground-breaking company emerges inspired to develop the science that ensures the safety of the Thoroughbred race horse .
Here is how (and why) it happened.
David Lambert, B.V.Sc.(Hons.),M.R.C.V.S.
Chief Executive Officer
Considered a leader in equine sports physiology, Dr. Lambert began his career studying the Herring-Brauer reflex at Cornell University. He then went into private practice and worked with the United States Equestrian team.
Dr. Lambert would go on to found Equine Analysis Systems in 1987, focusing the company on thoroughbred performance evaluation and consultancy, and in 2019 founded StrideSAFE. Dr. Lambert holds a Bachelors Degree with Honors in Veterinary Science from Liverpool University and is a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgery. He is also a Member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Greg Pachman started working with racehorses at the age of 13 as a hotwalker and groom at farms and racetracks in his native New Jersey. After attending Emory University in Atlanta he took a detour to the US Air Force where he flew F-16s, instructed in AT-38s, and investigated aircraft crashes as a flight safety officer.
After leaving active-duty in 2004, Greg went back to the horses while simultaneously working with start-up technology companies. Greg has held numerous management roles with both hardware and software companies both in and out of the equine realm. He also worked with Dr David Lambert at Equine Analysis which is where their relationship started.
Over the past decade, Greg continued working in the technology sector while owning and training horses for himself. He has become an expert on the use of sensors and technology in evaluating horses. Greg also serves as a steward with the National Steeplechase Association.
Dr. Mikael Holmstrom, DVM PhD
Dr. Holmstrom, a veterinarian in Sweden and long-term partner in Equine Analysis, has a Ph.D. in equine biomechanics from the University of Uppsala. Dr. Holmstroem has been a frequent speaker at international conferences on horse physiology and horse locomotion since 1996. He has published multiple papers on the subject and was featured recently in Equine Locomotion.
Dr. Holmstrom is also the chief developer of Fotoselect® His current research is focused in the field of phenotypic heritability. He holds both a Doctorate and PhD in Veterinary Medicine from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He is also an accomplished mathematician and programmer. He compiles and analyzes the data from StrideSAFE sensors to identify abnormalities of movement and changes in stride.
Dr. Holmstrom heads up the research effort and he is uncovering even more ways to identify early pathology in the stride of racing thoroughbreds.
Professor Kevin Donohue
University of Kentucky, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
Professor Donohue graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a degree in Mathematics. He then went on to earn a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and currently is on the faculty at the University of Kentucky.
He has extensive experience with signal analysis and the design of classification/detection of complex phenomena in applications such as medical ultrasound, computational auditory scene analysis, radar and behavior/motion tracking. His main focus has been on sensor and information developed for improving monitoring applications in science, healthcare, agriculture, and defense.
Professor Donohue has been a long-time consultant to Equine Analysis where he developed a way to analyze the signal from the Equine Analysis sensors and his input proved to be a critical part of the engineering and signal analysis of the technology presently in use by StrideSAFE.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Rachel moved to Lexington, KY to attend the University of Kentucky where she developed an interest in racing. While attending school, Rachel took an internship position with Equine Analysis, assisting with both technical and office tasks. Upon graduation, she earned a fulltime position with the company as a veterinary assistant.
Quickly recognized as valuable member of the team, Rachel was promoted to Senior Technician in 2019, helping coordinate farm visits, training new staff, and streamlining technical procedures. She now balances responsibilities between Operations Manager for Equine Analysis and StrideSAFE, helping to maximize day-to-day efficiency in all aspects of operations and improve organizational processes.
StrideSAFE came into being in 2019 when two companies, Equine Analysis Systems of Kentucky (EA) in the USA and StrideMaster (SM) in Australia felt that by combining their technologies they could make a significant contribution to the efforts of the racing industry to eliminate catastrophic injuries.
For their part, StrideMaster under the guidance of their CEO David Hawke had developed a sophisticated sensor and GPS system which could be carried safely in races. In Australia, their system has been in use for 9 years with the Tasmania Racing Club and 35,000 race day recordings had been collected without incident. In Tasmania, the system was used to provide timing and handicapping information.
At the same time in America, Equine Analysis, under the guidance of its CEO Dr. David Lambert, had created a complex model for performance prediction. Their understanding was based upon many physiological and anatomical measurements on 50,000 horses.
The two CEOs met in 2018 in Australia when Dr. Lambert was a keynote speaker at the International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology.
Equine Analysis had developed a sensor system in 2005 which was used in their performance prediction algorithms. The algorithms were predictive because at high speed every horse has its own unique way of moving. This the Equine Analysis team recognized as the racing “fingerprint”. Although not actively involved in lameness diagnosis, the Equine Analysis team of veterinarians had nevertheless observed that when the fingerprint changed something was going wrong for the horse.
The sensors were picking up signals which were so fast they could not be seen by the trainer or felt by the jockey. In effect, this resulted in a very early warning for the caregivers. Nowadays, the Equine Analysis sensor system is no match for the far more sophisticated system developed at StrideMaster. So, the idea of bringing the performance understanding of Equine Analysis with StrideMaster’s advanced sensor technology held the promise of some profound discoveries in the search for a welfare solution.
For the challenging work which lay ahead two very important people joined the StrideSAFE equity partners.
Professor Kevin Donohue had been a long-time consultant to Equine Analysis. He had developed a way to analyze the signal from the Equine Analysis sensors and his input proved to be a critical part of the engineering and signal analysis of the technology presently in use by StrideSAFE.
Dr. Holmstrom, a veterinarian in Sweden and long-term partner in Equine Analysis, has a Ph.D. in equine biomechanics from the University of Uppsala.
While Dr. Donohue developed and managed signal analysis, Dr. Lambert and Dr. Holmstrom began the process of combining the data from both systems and using the Equine Analysis understanding of racehorse physiology to identify those critical moments in a stride which were most likely to change when the horse began to experience problems.
Dr. Holmstrom now heads up the research effort and he is uncovering even more ways to identify early pathology in the stride of racing thoroughbreds.
From its formation, the goal at StrideSAFE was to collect sensor-driven data from the horse itself when it was running at high speed and to use that data to create a screening test to identify injuries at the very earliest moment.
Now, by using the StrideSAFE screening tests, everyone can focus on the most at-risk horses. Once alerted, the trainers and veterinarians can find those horses in danger of catastrophic injury and so protect them.
Certainly, some of the spontaneous one-off type of injuries will still be missed, but the StrideSAFE technology introduces a new 21st-century approach towards finding the majority of the remainder.
For StrideSAFE this is just the beginning. As data accumulates, machine learning and artificial intelligence methodologies will create ways to help save our horses and jockeys worldwide.
Although veterinarians have many advanced diagnostic imaging modalities available to them, they had no way to recognize which single horse was most at risk. The veterinary profession needed a fast, reliable, inexpensive screening test to run on every horse in every race before they could determine where to focus their resources.
Courses are being designed at StrideSAFE, along with the assistance of Professor Bayly, a world-renowned equine physiologist and educator, to teach veterinarians at the track how to interpret the data collected from horses under their care. This will help bridge the gap from sensor technology to standard veterinary diagnostic procedures.
Education is going to be a major part of the StrideSAFE program.
The company has provided such a screening, and thanks to the support of the New York Racing Association (NYRA) StrideSAFE's use on every horse in every race of Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga in 2021/22 has proven it works.
A new era of racehorse care and safety has begun!