Comparison of aerobic capacity between racing standardbred horses
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A standardized treadmill test was used to compare metabolic and ventilatory measurements between 10 standardbred racehorses. The horses were divided into two groups: group A (n = 5) had mean racing speeds of 4.4 s faster than group B (n = 5) over a 1-mi. distance. Each horse was fitted with a venous catheter and connected to a valved gas-collection system. The exercise test consisted of 1-min incremental workloads ranging from 4.0 to 12.0 m/s at a treadmill incline of 3 degrees. Group A had significantly higher (P < 0.05) measurements of maximal O2 consumption (VO2max), O2 pulse, and tidal volume. Venous lactate concentration and respiratory exchange ratio measured at VO2max were also significantly higher (P < 0.05) in group A. Similar treadmill velocities were required to achieve a respiratory exchange ratio of > 1 and venous blood lactate concentration of > 4 mmol/l; however, group A was able to complete a significantly higher (P < 0.01) number of workloads before fatigue. The high aerobic and anaerobic capacity of group A horses may be a major contributor to a faster racing performance.
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