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Summary

Five horses were studied during a five-week regime of controlled intensive daily training on a high-speed treadmill followed by five weeks of detraining. Muscle biopsies were taken weekly from both the right and left gluteus muscle and from the sternocephalicus muscle before, and at the end of, the training and detraining periods. Histochemical and biochemical analyses of the sternocephalicus muscle showed no metabolic adaptation with either training or detraining. No significant differences were observed in any of the analysed parameters in the gluteus muscle between contralateral sites. Glycogen levels decreased by 10 to 15 per cent after one to two weeks of training, remained low during the training period and increased to pretraining levels after one week's cessation of training. Citrate synthase activity increased rapidly and was 27 per cent higher after one week and 42 per cent higher after five weeks of training. Lactate dehydrogenase activity decreased by 15 per cent during this period. The changes seen in these enzyme levels persisted during the detraining period. No alterations were seen in fibre type composition but type IIA fibre areas decreased by 19 per cent after five weeks training and capillary density increased by 17 per cent. It is concluded that a period of intensive training will rapidly increase the oxidative capacity and the capillary density in an actively working muscle, and that these metabolic adaptations are well maintained during a subsequent period of detraining.