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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • lactate;
  • exercise;
  • glycogen;
  • conditioning

Summary

The effects of 3 different conditioning programmes on muscle glycogen concentration in horses were examined. Speed of exercise was selected according to the blood lactate values for each horse derived from a standardised exercise test before beginning a conditioning programme. Six 2-year-old Haflinger stallions were assigned randomly to one of 3 conditioning programmes according to a 6 × 3 latin square design: 45 min at their individual v1.5 or v2.5 and 25 min at v4. Each conditioning programme lasted 6 weeks (21 exercise sessions), followed by 5 weeks without conditioning (resting period). All exercise was carried out on a treadmill inclined at 17%. Muscle biopsies were taken 5 times from the gluteus medius muscle at 2 cm and 6 cm depth: before the start and in the middle of the conditioning period, then at Days 2, 9 and 35 after the last exercise session. It was found that glycogen concentration was not affected by conditioning until 9 days after finishing conditioning at v1.5 and v2.5 for 45 min (P<.05). By this time glycogen concentration in the muscle samples taken at 6 cm depth increased by 47 and 48%, respectively, and remained elevated until the end of the resting period.

It was concluded that conditioning at lower intensity and for longer duration seemed to increase glycogen stores in the muscle while faster intensity but shorter duration exercise did not. To increase the likelihood of measuring effects of conditioning programmes on muscle variables, sampling should be done at different depths of a muscle and at several days after finishing a conditioning programme.