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A Field Study of Oxygen Consumption and Estimated Energy Expenditure in the Exercising Horse
Hanák J., P. Jahn, R.Kabe, M. Sedlinská, Z., J. Mezerová, and O. Chvátal: A Field Study of Oxygen Consumption and Estimated Energy Expenditure in the Exercising Horse. Acta Vet. Brno 2001, 70: 133-139.

The major goal of this study was to estimate the aerobic and anaerobic contribution to energy expenditure in the running warm blood horse under field conditions. The oxygen consumption (VO2) in 12 saddle horses was determined at rest, walk, trot, and canter and in 6 horses at gallop. In the 10 min immediately following exercise the relative oxygen debt (RD-VO2) was measured. The horses were exercised by riders in the various gaits at speeds representing 15, 30, 50 and 70% of the their individual maximum speed (Vmax). The distances covered were 3000 m in each walk, trot and canter and 1500 m in gallop. VO2 and RD-VO2 m and energy expenditure (J.kg.min-1) using the oxygen caloric equivalent of the measured respiratory quotient (RQ) were studied for possible relations to the speed. The proportion of anaerobic energy expenditure (%E anaer.) to the total energy production was also investigated. A linear relation between speed and aerobic energy expenditure (E) and a quadratic relation between speed and anaerobic energy expenditure (RD-E) and total energy expenditure (TE) was found.

The %E anaer. was 1.21 ± 0.40 at a speed of 15% Vmax, 3.40 ± 0.38 at 30% Vmax, 18.58 ± 2.05 at 50% Vmax, and 29.47 ± 1.17 at 70% Vmax.

Post-exercise oxygen uptake appears a suitable measure for the major part of the oxygen debt (relative oxygen debt) and could be considered as an indicator of anaerobically released energy. For this reason it may also be an indicator of the anaerobic capacity of the horse at a standard or maximal exercise.

Prof. MVDr. Jaroslav Hanák, DrSc.
Equine Clinic, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Palackého 1-3, 612 42 Brno, Czech Republic
Phone: +420-5-4156 2373
Fax: +420-5-4156 2395
e-mail: hanakj@vfu.cz


Dave Freeman, animal scientist and equine specialist: Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
Press Release: 1998

“Research with human athletes suggests that warming up can improve running speed, flexibility and strength of movement in some parts of the body. However, reaction time to a stimulus does not appear to be affected. While speed in sprints and distance runs may be improved, agility is not. "Limited research in horses suggests that performance improvement by a warm-up session may result from increased energy availability and use," Freeman said. "The research suggests most benefits are to horses performing aerobic-type work."

There are several ways that warming up might increase the performance of a horse. Freeman said much of the discussion must be based on evidence from practices substantiated by trainers because there have been few research studies performed in this area. "Research has shown five minutes of work at 60-70 percent maximum (heart rates above 160 to 170 beats per minute) elicits the spleen to dump red blood cells into circulation," Freeman said.

Red blood cells transport oxygen to the muscle, where oxygen can be used for pathways that require it for the breakdown of energy-containing compounds. However, the spleen is controlled by the endocrine system. "The spleen may contract from sheer anticipation of performance," Freeman said. "Thus, workload may not be necessary to elicit the response of increased blood cells into the blood."


American Physiological Society, May 2, 2006 Kentucky Derby: Race Horse Physiology Is Model For Speed
SUMMARY: Important discoveries about heart rate, blood clotting, blood pressure and the role of oxygen in the blood have resulted from research with horses, said Kenneth H. McKeever, associate professor and associate director of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, and an advisor to the New York state racing board’s medication advisory committee.


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Racing picture above is called “GALLOWAY & COMPANY”  from the Collection of Randy Galloway and Don Walker.