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1.  Reduced high intensity training distance had no effect on VLa4 but attenuated heart rate response in 2-3-year-old Standardbred horses 
Training of Standardbred race horses aims to improve cardiovascular and metabolic functions but studies on the effects of different training strategies from breaking till racing are lacking. Sixteen horses with the goal to race as 3-year-olds were studied from breaking (1-year-olds) to December as 3-year-olds. Horses were allocated to either a control (C) or reduced (R) training program from 2 years of age. The aim was to evaluate the effect of reducing the distance of high intensity exercise by 30% with respect to velocity at lactate concentration 4 mmol/l (VLa4), blood lactate and cardiovascular response. All training sessions were documented and heart rate (HR) was recorded. A standardized exercise test of 1,600 m was performed 10 times and a VLa4 test was performed five times.
C horses initially exercised for a longer time with a HR >180 beats per minute compared to R horses (P < 0.05) but after 6–9 months, time with HR >180 bpm decreased in C and were similar in the two groups (P > 0.05). Over the 2-year period, recovery HR after the 1,600 m-test decreased in both groups but was within 2 months lower in C than in R (P < 0.05). C horses also had lower resting HR as 3-year-olds (P < 0.01) than R horses. In C, post exercise hematocrit was higher than in R (P < 0.05). There was a tendency (P < 0.1) towards a larger aortic diameter in C as 3-year-olds (C: 1.75 ± 0.05, R: 1.70 ± 0.05 cm/100 kg BW). Left ventricle diameter and blood volume (in December as 2-year-olds) did not differ between groups. There were no differences between groups in post exercise blood lactate concentration or in VLa4. Both groups were equally successful in reaching the goal of participation in races.
Horses subjected to a reduced distance of high intensity training from the age of 2 showed an attenuated heart rate response, but were able to maintain the same VLa4 and race participation as horses subjected to longer training distances.
PMCID: PMC4389305  PMID: 25884463
Anaerobic threshold; Cardiovascular response; Hematocrit; Lactate; Heart rate
2.  Temperature regulation in horses during exercise and recovery in a cool environment 
Clipping the winter coat in horses is done to improve heat dissipation during exercise and make grooming easier. It is often combined with blanketing to keep the horse warm. The aims of the present study were to investigate how clipping and the use of blankets affect thermoregulation during exercise and recovery in horses.
One Gotland pony, one New Forest pony, and one warm-blooded horse exercised one after the other on a 6450 m long track. The horses walked, trotted and cantered according to a predetermined scheme, which took about 50 minutes including three stops. The scheme was repeated on five consecutive days when horses were: 1) unclipped 2) unclipped + blanket during recovery, 3) left or right side clipped, 4) clipped, and 5) clipped + riding blanket + blanket during recovery. Heart rate (HR) was measured with telemetry, respiratory rate (RR) by counting flank contractions, skin temperatures by thermistor probes, and rectal temperature with a digital thermometer. Skin wetness (SW) was estimated by ocular inspection (dripping = 5, dry = 0).
Mean outdoor temperature varied from -1.1 to - 8.7°C. HR increased progressively during exercise with no difference between treatments. Maximum RR was 77 ± 30 breaths/min (unclipped) and 49 ± 27 breaths/min (clipped). The lowest skin temperature was 17.5 ± 2.7°C in a hind leg during exercise, which increased to 34.5 ± 0.1°C during recovery. Rectal temperature was elevated during recovery in unclipped, but not in clipped horses and skin temperature at base of tail was elevated during recovery except in unclipped horses without blanket. Moisture after exercise scored 3.2 ± 0.8 in unclipped and zero in clipped horses.
Discussion and conclusion
Leg skin temperature initially dropped at onset of exercise in clipped horses, and then increased after about 30 minutes due to internal heat from the working muscles. These changes were not significant when clipped horses had riding blankets, whereas unclipped horses became overheated as judged from respiratory rate and elevated rectal temperature. Providing clipped horses with blankets dampened the changes in leg skin temperature during exercise.
PMCID: PMC3427134  PMID: 22805591
Cool ambient temperature; Heart rate; Rectal temperature; Respiratory rate; Skin temperature
3.  Cardiovascular, endocrine and behavioural responses to suckling and permanent separation in goats 
Suckling can be a peaceful or vulnerable event for goats and kids, whereas, separation is suggested as stressful. The aim of this study was to investigate physiology and behaviour in these two different situations in dairy goats.
Four studies were performed with seven goats kept with their first-born kid in individual boxes. The goats were videotaped and heart rate and arterial blood pressure were recorded every minute by telemetry from parturition until 24 hours after separation. One to two days after parturition, Study 1 was performed with analyses of heart rate and blood pressure around a suckling. In Study 2, performed 3-5 days after parturition, blood sampling was done before, during and after suckling. Study 3 was performed 4-6 days post partum, with blood sampling before and after a permanent goat and kid separation. In addition, vocalisations were recorded after separation. Blood samples were obtained from a jugular vein catheter and analysed for plasma cortisol, β-endorphin, oxytocin, and vasopressin concentrations. Study 4 was performed during the first (N1) and second nights (N2) after parturition and the nights after Study 2 (N3) and 3 (N4). Heart rate, blood pressure and time spent lying down were recorded.
The kids suckled 2 ± 0.2 times per hour and each suckling bout lasted 43 ± 15 s. In Study 1, heart rate and blood pressure did not change significantly during undisturbed suckling. In Study 2, plasma cortisol (P ≤ 0.05 during suckling and P ≤ 0.01 five minutes after suckling) and β-endorphin (P ≤ 0.05) concentrations increased during suckling, but oxytocin and vasopressin concentrations did not change. In Study 3, the goats and kids vocalised intensively during the first 20 minutes after separation, but the physiological variables were not affected. In Study 4, heart rate and arterial blood pressure declined gradually after parturition and were lowest during N4 (P ≤ 0.05) when the goats spent longer time lying down than during earlier nights (P ≤ 0.01 during N1 and N3 and P ≤ 0.05 during N2).
Suckling elevated plasma cortisol and β-endorphin concentrations in the goats. The intensive vocalisation in the goats after separation, earlier suggested to indicate stress, was not accompanied by cardiovascular or endocrine responses.
PMCID: PMC2940886  PMID: 20807413

Results 1-3 (3)