Effects of flunixin on movement and performance of Standardbred trotters on the track

Authors

  • P. KALLINGS,

    1. Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences University of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.
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  • C. JOHNSTON,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anatomy and Histology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.
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  • S. DREVEMO

    1. Department of Anatomy and Histology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.
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Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences University of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.

Summary

An often discussed and controversial issue is the effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of the NSAID flunixin on the movement pattern and performance capacity of Standardbred trotters using a standardised track model. Five adult Standardbred horses in training trotted at 2 occasions with a 2 week interval on the same oval dirt track. Before each occasion the horses were either injected with flunixin meglumine (Finadyne) or normal saline solution i.m. 4 h before the performance test (double blind crossover study). The kinematics for 5 consecutive strides were filmed. There was no significant difference in maximal speed between the saline and flunixin treatment sessions. Significant changes in the movement pattern were observed as an effect of the flunixin treatment The horses maintained the same stride duration while significantly decreasing stance time and increasing swing time in the forelimbs. The horses' range of limb angle decreased significantly. Heart rates were monitored and plasma lactate and flunixin concentrations were measured. No significant differences were found in heart rate and plasma lactate. The results indicate that flunixin had a significant effect on locomotor pattern while it did not effect metabolic response in these horses (considered to represent a normal race track population). The overall effect on performance in racing horses may therefore be related to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of NSAIDs by masking pain and lameness.

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