Research on the Factors Affecting the Performance of Sport Horses—Second Edition

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Equids".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2024 | Viewed by 2111

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, Animal Physiology Section, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain
Interests: exercise physiology; animal welfare; equine sport medicine; equine sport performance; exercise test; lameness; rehabilitation; training; musculoskeletal ultrasound; clinical analysis
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Department of Animal Medicine and Surgery, Equine Sport Medicine Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain
Interests: equine exercise physiology; equine sport medicine; equine sport performance; exercise test; lameness; rehabilitation; training
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, Animal Physiology Section, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain
Interests: physiology; exercise physiology; animal welfare; animal reproduction; applied physiology; equine; animal production
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In this new issue of the Animals journal, we welcome the submission of original clinical research or reviews on equine exercise physiology and sports medicine, regarding the following topics: 1) physical fitness assessment; 2) implementation of measures, strategies, and techniques to enhance sports performance; 3) use of innovative diagnostic techniques for performance loss; 4) studies regarding horse–rider interactions; 5) welfare in equine sports.

Horses are incredible athletes, being able to perform exercises of different duration and intensity requiring great technical skills, in a perfect combination of endurance, speed and strength. The assessment of fitness is essential in order to design and modify a training program that highlights the greatest athletic potential and limits the unnecessary repetition of exercises that lead to mechanical and functional overload. In recent years, the application of various management, training, nutritional, and physiotherapeutic techniques has reached great relevance in an attempt to enhance fitness. On many of these therapies or strategies, in-depth research is needed to confirm their effects or to evaluate various application protocols or procedures.

Despite the increase in our knowledge regarding the physiology and pathophysiology of exercise, the reduction in sports performance is very common in these athletes and the diagnosis of the underlying reasons is a very relevant clinical area and sometimes a challenge for the clinician. Improvements in diagnostic, laboratory, imaging techniques and the development of portable techniques, available for use in a field setting, have led to more accurate diagnoses. In addition to the numerous causes of lameness, the limitation of aerobic capacity, associated with one or several steps in the oxygen transport chain, and/or in the anaerobic capacity, should be evaluated in any sport horse, depending on the discipline in which the horse competes. In addition, equestrian exercise is carried out by a rider–horse couple; thus, the rider is essential for achieving competitive success. In addition, in this Special Issue, we consider studies on welfare in the sport horse to be relevant.

Dr. Francisco Requena
Dr. Ana Muñoz
Prof. Dr. Estrella Agüera
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • exercise physiology
  • animal welfare
  • equine sport medicine
  • equine sport performance
  • exercise test
  • loss of performance
  • lameness
  • rehabilitation
  • training
  • musculoskeletal ultrasound
  • clinical analysis

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

26 pages, 17764 KiB  
Article
The Detection of Thoracolumbar Spine Injuries in Horses with Chronic Laminitis Using a Novel Clinical-Assessment Protocol and Ultrasonographic Examination
by Julia R. B. Guedes, Cynthia P. Vendruscolo, Paula K. A. Tokawa, Armando M. Carvalho, Philip J. Johnson and Rafael R. Faleiros
Animals 2024, 14(9), 1364; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14091364 - 30 Apr 2024
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Abstract
Postural adaptation is a prominent feature in horses affected by laminitis. Laminitis induces intense pain, especially in the forelimbs, prompting affected horses to assume a caudally displaced trunk posture, resulting in the hyperflexion of the thoracolumbar spine. This study assessed the nature and [...] Read more.
Postural adaptation is a prominent feature in horses affected by laminitis. Laminitis induces intense pain, especially in the forelimbs, prompting affected horses to assume a caudally displaced trunk posture, resulting in the hyperflexion of the thoracolumbar spine. This study assessed the nature and prevalence of thoracolumbar injuries in horses with chronic laminitis compared to horses without it. Sixty horses were used (thirty laminitic and thirty non-laminitic) of different athletic purposes and ages (2–20 years). The experimental protocol entailed a single assessment of horses’ thoracolumbar spines, utilizing physical examination by MACCTORE, a scoring system developed specifically for this study. Additional evaluations included the Grimace Equine Pain Scale (HGS) and ultrasound exams. Statistical tests were used to compare values (Mann–Whitney or t-test) and lesions prevalences (Fisher) between groups (p < 0.05). The results showed a higher pain manifestation (HGS and heart rate, p < 0.0001) and thoracolumbar-spine-injury levels in chronic laminitis horses, both in MACCTORE clinical examinations (11.7 ± 4.8 vs. 4.2 ± 3.3, p < 0.0001) and general ultrasonographic indices (39.6 ± 12.0 vs. 20.7 ± 7.1, p < 0.0001), including specific examination approaches for various spinal elements. Horses with laminitis presented with a 14-fold higher prevalence of ultrasound-relevant lesions in the thoracolumbar spine (CI: 4.4 to 50.6, p < 0.0001) compared to controls. These findings constitute new evidence of an association between chronic laminitis and the presence of thoracolumbar spine injuries in horses, which may be confirmed by more sophisticated study designs. Full article
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17 pages, 4286 KiB  
Article
Objective Assessment of Equine Locomotor Symmetry Using an Inertial Sensor System and Artificial Intelligence: A Comparative Study
by Natalie Calle-González, Chiara Maria Lo Feudo, Francesco Ferrucci, Francisco Requena, Luca Stucchi and Ana Muñoz
Animals 2024, 14(6), 921; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14060921 - 16 Mar 2024
Viewed by 975
Abstract
In horses, quantitative assessment of gait parameters, as with the use of inertial measurement units (IMUs) systems, might help in the decision-making process. However, it requires financial investment, is time-consuming, and lacks accuracy if displaced. An innovative artificial intelligence marker-less motion tracking system [...] Read more.
In horses, quantitative assessment of gait parameters, as with the use of inertial measurement units (IMUs) systems, might help in the decision-making process. However, it requires financial investment, is time-consuming, and lacks accuracy if displaced. An innovative artificial intelligence marker-less motion tracking system (AI-MTS) may overcome these limitations in the field. Our aim was to compare the level of agreement and accuracy between both systems and visual clinical assessment. Twenty horses underwent locomotion analysis by visual assessment, IMUs, and AI-MTS systems, under the following conditions: straight hard (SH), straight soft (SS), left and right circle hard (LCH, RCH), and soft (LCS, RCS). A greater number of horses were considered sound by clinical examination, compared to those identified as symmetric by the two gait analysis systems. More limbs were considered asymmetric by the AI-MTS compared to IMUs, suggesting its greater sensitivity. The greatest agreement between the two systems was found for the difference between two minima in vertical head position in SH, while the lowest for the difference between two minima in vertical pelvis position in SS, reflecting the difficulties in assessing asymmetry of the hindlimbs. It is unknown what degree of asymmetry is clinically relevant, suggesting that more consistent use in training horses may help determine the thresholds for asymmetry. Some degree of asymmetry may be clinically relevant, suggesting its regular use in training horses. Full article
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