Reasons for performing study: Investigate angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity in equine plasma as a predictor of performance in endurance competitions and the effect of endurance exercise on ACE activity.
Hypothesis: Precompetition values of ACE activity in equine blood are correlated with performance results and with heart rates pre- and post competition used as indicators of fitness. Endurance exercise increases ACE activity.
Methods: Nineteen horses participating in an 80 km endurance competition had venous blood samples collected before and after the ride. ACE activity and total protein were measured in the blood samples and heart rates and finishing positions were recorded. Statistical analysis included paired t tests and Spearman's rank correlation coefficient.
Results: Of the 19 horses enlisted, only 16 horses completed the ride. Of these 16, another 2 were disqualified at the last veterinary check. When the 16 horses were considered, precompetition heart rate, but not ACE, was correlated with finishing position. When only the 14 horses that were classified were considered, the association disappeared. ACE activity was similar before and after competition.
Conclusions: Precompetition ACE activity in endurance horses competing in an 80 km event was not associated with either finishing position or heart rates before or after competition, indicating that the enzyme is not a good predictor of performance in this form of equestrian competition. Endurance competition did not significantly alter ACE activity in this group of horses.