Cardiac Recovery Time in Endurance Horses Evaluated

Veterinarians and riders should consider cardiac recovery times of more than 13 minutes as a warning sign of a problem.
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Cardiac Recovery Time in Endurance Horses Evaluated
Robert and Barrey encourage veterinarians and riders to consider recovery times greater than 13 minutes as a warning sign of a problem. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Horses participating in an endurance event have the potential to be eliminated at one of the veterinary examinations (termed vet gates) if the attending practitioners deem the animals unfit to continue. Detecting unfit horses before a health problem occurs can be challenging for veterinarians, but is essential for improving equine welfare. So, vets take into account multiple factors, such as hydration status, gut sounds, general appearance, and cardiac recovery time (CRT), the latter of which might be most telling.

In a recent study, Céline Robert, DVM, PhD, a researcher and lecturer at the National Veterinary School of Maisons-Alfort in France; Eric Barrey, a senior research specialist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research; and colleagues determined that CRT appears to be a reliable indicator of a horse’s fitness level and likelihood of being eliminated from a race.

In endurance competitions, horses have 20 minutes after arriving at a vet gate to attain a heart rate of 65 beats per minute (bpm). “In this study, we showed that the majority of horses were recovering the value of 64 bpm in a few minutes and that recovery times longer than 11 to 13 minutes were indicators of a high risk of elimination on the next phase,” Barrey said.

Robert and Barrey encourage veterinarians and riders to consider recovery times greater than 13 minutes as a warning sign of a problem

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Written by:

Katie Navarra has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. A lifelong horse lover, she owns and enjoys competing a dun Quarter Horse mare.

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