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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • exercise;
  • physiology

Summary

The running abilities of 25 Thoroughbred racehorses were measured at distances of 1200, 1600 and 20000 m. Various physiological variables were measured subsequently on the treadmill and correlated with running speed. There was a negative correlation for running speed with the velocity (VLa4) and work rate (WLa4) at which blood lactate reaches a steady-state concentration of 4 mmol/litre and a positive correlation with peak plasma lactate, suggesting that plasma lactate concentrations of faster horses rise more rapidly and to higher levels than do those of slower horses. The correlation between running speeds and heart rates (HR) was stronger for unfit than fit horses, suggesting that cardiovascular effects of training are more beneficial to slower horses. The significant correlation between running speeds and V200 suggests that the HR of faster horses increases more rapidly than in slower horses performing similar exercise. The correlation of running speeds and O2max suggests that the HR of faster horses increases more rapidly than in slower horses performing similar exercise. The correlation of running speeds and VO2max suggests that faster horses utilise more oxygen during maximal intensity exercise. The correlation of running speeds with minimum pH and minimum HCO3 suggests that faster horses maintain speed at higher hydrogen ion (H+) concentrations. Correlations between running speeds and the measured variables were consistently stronger for the longer distance runs. Because VLa4 and WLa4 were obtained during sub-maximal exercise, these variables were determined to be the best correlates of running performance.