Equine Grass Sickness Fund

The Moredun Foundation Equine Grass Sickness Fund is the only registered charity in the UK raising funds specifically for research into grass sickness.

Mission Statement

Dedicated to supporting and advancing research into grass sickness and further improving the treatment of chronic cases.


Grass Sickness, a devastating disease first seen in horses in Angus, Scotland around 1907, remains one of the great unsolved mysteries, and consequently one of the most feared by horse owners.

1923 – 1949
The impetus for research into grass sickness began in the early 1920’s when huge losses in horses were recorded. Over the years 1923 – 1949 research at the Animal Diseases Research Association Moredun Research Institute included a great deal of investigation of potential causes and many were eliminated.

1950 – 1979
Changes in agricultural practices meant a reduction in the number of horses on farms due to the introduction of the tractor and interest in the disease waned. In 1971 John Gilmour at ‘the Moredun’, stimulated by the interest in the disease in the pleasure horse, began research into the epidemiology hoping that this would give a clue to the cause. Over the next 21 years he conducted many studies into grass sickness until his untimely death.

1980 -1988
In 1980 Mrs Anne Wilson started the Grass Sickness Fund to raise money for research after losing her favourite Connemara mare. Anne visited ‘the Moredun’ to meet John Gilmour, recognised as a world authority on grass sickness, who needed funding for essential equipment. Research in Edinburgh continued to benefit from the support of the Grass Sickness Fund until 1988.

1988 onwards
In 1988 the Animal Diseases Research Association, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (R(D)SVS) and the Grass Sickness Fund were brought together to launch the ADRA Equine Grass Sickness Fund, now known as The Moredun Foundation Equine Grass Sickness Fund. Lady Sanderson of Bowden became the first Chairman of the Fund, a position that she held until Autumn 2000. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal become Patron of the Fund in 1990.


The Fund is governed by a fundraising and scientific review committee, which consists of scientists, vets and horse owners.

What We Do

  • Support vital research into grass sickness in an effort to find the cause.
  • Review funding applications and allocate resources.
  • Support the treatment of chronic grass sickness cases at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies by part funding a specialist Grass Sickness Nurse.
  • Offer practical advice and support to owners of affected horses and ponies in the UK and abroad.
  • Publish ‘Equine News’ to report progress on research, fundraising, and news from the regions.
  • Raise funds through the sale of merchandise and Christmas cards.
  • Provide information on our website.

How We Do It

The Equine Grass Sickness Fund is a registered charity. We rely entirely on contributions from members of the public, charitable trusts, legacies, organisations and companies to enable us to support new projects. Funds donated are carefully managed and targeted towards finding the cause of grass sickness. We receive no government funding.

What We Support

Since the formation of The Moredun Equine Grass Sickness Fund in 1988 substantial progress has been made. The Fund has been instrumental in encouraging veterinary and scientific collaboration throughout the U.K. and has either wholly or partially funded a number of worthwhile research projects.

They include investigations into possible causal agents, neuropathology, digestive function, non-invasive diagnostic tests, oxidative stress, pasture management and epidemiological studies in the UK.

The development of a special nursing regime, pioneered by a team at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, has led to a substantial increase in the number of chronic cases being restored to health, throughout the U.K. The Fund continues to part fund a specialist grass sickness nurse at the Royal (Dick) Vet.

The Future

Research is expensive and current requests for funding greatly exceed available finance. There is no doubt that a greater availability of funds would enhance the possibility of finding the cause of this distressing disease and ultimately a method of prevention.

You can help by making a donation towards research.

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