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AI for Equine Health: Boehringer Ingelheim and Sleip’s Revolutionary Collaboration

AI for Equine Health: Boehringer Ingelheim and Sleip’s Revolutionary Collaboration
Courtesy of Sleip

Boehringer Ingelheim and Sleip have partnered to expand access to AI technology in equine healthcare, enhancing the diagnosis and treatment of lameness in horses through the Sleip app and educational initiatives. We learn more about the technology during a webinar hosted on May 21 by Sleip. 

Boehringer Ingelheim and Sleip have partnered to expand the reach of Sleip’s AI-driven motion analysis app for detecting and treating lameness in horses. Boehringer Ingelheim contributes its veterinary expertise, customer base, and resources to promote the app, making advanced diagnostic tools more accessible to veterinarians and enhancing equine health globally. This collaboration combines Boehringer Ingelheim’s extensive expertise in veterinary medicine with Sleip’s innovative AI-driven motion analysis technology, aiming to revolutionize how veterinarians diagnose and manage equine lameness.

Central to this partnership is the Sleip app, a sophisticated tool that acts as a scan by using AI to analyze a horse’s movement from simple smartphone video footage, providing veterinarians with detailed stride-by-stride analysis and synchronized biomechanical data to enhance diagnostic accuracy and facilitate informed treatment decisions. This initiative aims to drive awareness and improve diagnosis and treatment compliance rates for lameness in horses.

Sleip released the first version in 2021 to selected veterinarians and made the app officially available to a broader market in 2022. As Boehringer Ingelheim prepares to introduce the Sleip app to veterinary markets in North America later this year, and to key European markets in 2025, this partnership marks a pivotal moment in equine healthcare, combining AI technology with veterinary expertise to enhance the precision and effectiveness of equine lameness diagnosis and treatment, ultimately improving the health and well-being of horses worldwide.

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Courtesy of Sleip

Scientifically Validated and Used by Regulatory, Ambulatory, and Olympic-team Vets

What sets Sleip apart is its ability to make advanced objective gait analysis accessible for everyday clinical use without the need for additional hardware or equipment. All that’s required is an iPhone with a good camera, an internet connection, and the Sleip app. This user-friendly, scientifically validated tool leverages AI computer vision to detect and track over 100 key points on a horse’s body from a simple smartphone recording, providing precise, quantified measurements of gait with 2 mm accuracy. By analyzing the vertical displacement of the head and pelvis, Sleip’s algorithms quantify gait asymmetries that indicate unequal limb loading, a key sign of lameness, previously only measurable with costly multi-camera systems or IMU sensors.

Veterinarians use Sleip not only for diagnostics but also for follow-ups and monitoring rehabilitation, making objective gait analysis a routine part of care. This technology helps establish a baseline “movement fingerprint” for each horse, enabling early detection of subtle irregularities and preventing minor issues from becoming chronic. Additionally, Sleip’s sharing feature allows vets to invite others to record horses using the app, facilitating remote consultations and expanding commercial opportunities for clinics. This collaborative function is particularly useful for pre-purchase exams and field consultations. With customers in over 40 countries, including large clinics, ambulatory vets, regulatory and Olympic team vets, and researchers, Sleip is transforming equine healthcare on a global scale.

Is the Block Effective? Using Objective Data in Cases with Diagnostic Analgesia

In support of this mission, Sleip, in partnership with Tierklinik Lüsche and SMDC Clinic, hosted an educational webinar titled “Is the Block Effective? Using Objective Data in Cases with Diagnostic Analgesia” on May 21, 2024. Moderated by Sleip co-founder Elin Hernlund, the session featured insights from renowned veterinarians like Mathilde Pluim, DVM, PhD, ECVSMR, a senior veterinarian at Tierklinik Lüsche, Germany, and an FEI Official veterinarian for the German driving team. Mathilde Pluim discussed the practical applications of objective data in diagnostic analgesia, focusing on whether or not the block is effective.

Nerve blocking particular leg structures is a method veterinarians can use to help locate, or confirm, the location of pain associated with lameness, as explained by Mid-Rivers Equine Centre. During the webinar, Mathilde Pluim described two case studies to analyze whether or not the block is effective and to illustrate how using the Sleip app has proven invaluable in detecting and managing equine lameness by providing precise data to complement traditional veterinary practices.

In one case, Isa, a nine-year-old jumper with mild lameness, was diagnosed with superficial flexor tendonitis. Initial assessments using the Sleip app revealed subtle limb asymmetry, which, along with palpation and ultrasound findings, guided effective treatment. Despite persistent lameness, detailed assessments using the app confirmed the tendon as the pain source, leading to successful treatment and return to competition. Mathilde Pluim found that blocking the horse, combined with data from the app, provided a clearer understanding of the lameness source, enhancing the diagnosis and treatment strategy.

In another case, Kado, an eight-year-old dressage horse, exhibited behavioral issues and mild asymmetries that were initially challenging to diagnose. The Sleip app’s data highlighted significant discomfort in the left hind limb, guiding targeted diagnostic anesthesia and revealing bilateral proximal suspensory desmitis.

Courtesy of Sleip

Accurate diagnosis enabled effective intervention, significantly improving Kado’s behavior and performance, allowing a return to safe and reliable work. Here too, Pluim used the app to analyze whether blocking would be useful, which proved essential in pinpointing the exact location of the discomfort and confirming the diagnosis.

Mathilde Pluim does not advocate for always blocking a horse. Instead, she emphasizes the importance of using the Sleip app to determine when blocking is necessary. By analyzing the data provided by the app, she can make more informed decisions about whether blocking will be beneficial in diagnosing the source of lameness. This approach ensures that blocking is used judiciously and only when it is likely to yield valuable diagnostic information.

These cases demonstrate how the Sleip app enhances traditional diagnostics with objective data, guiding precise interventions and leading to improved outcomes for horses and their owners. By integrating technology like the Sleip app into veterinary practice, veterinarians can achieve more accurate diagnoses and effective treatments for equine lameness.

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