Study: Young Racehorses Might Benefit from Treadmill Work

Yearling Thoroughbreds that worked on a treadmill had better aerobic capacities and no signs of lameness.
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We all know that hitting the treadmill once in a while can be beneficial for human health, but recent study results indicate it could be good practice for young racehorses, as well.

Scientists at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), collaborated with researchers from the Japan Racing Association to determine whether treadmill training enables racehorses to build up their aerobic capacity while avoiding injury. Aerobic exercise is the type that can be sustained for longer periods of time without building up metabolic waste like lactic acid that makes animals tire.

Twelve yearling Thoroughbreds partook in one of three different training regimens for eight months. One group (C) worked under saddle in the conventional way as a control group. Another group (L) spent one day a week performing high-intensity exercise on an equine treadmill in addition to their routine work under saddle. The third group (S) received similar weekly treadmill workouts, but for just two months. The horses weren’t ridden on days they worked on the treadmill.

The researchers examined the horses frequently throughout the study period. They found that none of the horses exhibited any signs of lameness during the study. Additionally, all the horses’ aerobic capacity increased over the eight-month period; however, the group that spent one day per week on the treadmill throughout the entire study period saw significantly more improvement as compared to the control group

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Written by:

Natalie Voss is a freelance writer and editor based in Kentucky. She received her bachelor’s degree in equine science from the University of Kentucky and has worked in public relations for equine businesses and organizations. She spends her spare time riding her Draft cross, Jitterbug.

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