The Effect of Training on Stride Duration in a Cohort of Two-Year-Old and Three-Year-Old Thoroughbred Racehorses

Parkes, R S V and Weller, R and Pfau, T and Witte, T H (2019) The Effect of Training on Stride Duration in a Cohort of Two-Year-Old and Three-Year-Old Thoroughbred Racehorses. Animals, 9 (7). p. 466.

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Abstract

Objective gait monitoring is increasingly accessible to trainers. A more comprehensive understanding of ‘normal’ gait adaptations is required. Forty two-year-old thoroughbred racehorses were recruited when entering training and followed for 22 months. Gait analysis was performed by equipping each horse with an inertial measurement unit with inbuilt GPS (GPS-IMU) mounted on the dorsum. Horses were exercised as per their regular training regimen. Data were analysed using a linear mixed model. For two-year-old horses, there was a non-linear pattern of stride duration (SD) over time (p < 0.001) with SD decreasing initially and then ‘flattening off’ over time (linear and quadratic coefficients −0.29 ms/week and 0.006 ms/week2). Horses showed an increase in SD of 2.21 ms (p < 0.001) per 100 m galloped, and over time, SD decreased by 0.04 ms (p < 0.001) with each 100 m galloped per week. Three-year-old horses overall showed no change in SD over time (p = 0.52), but those that had a period of time off showed a decrease in SD of −0.59 ms per week (p = 0.02). They showed an increase in SD of 1.99 ms (p < 0.001) per 100 m galloped, and horses that had a period of time off showed an increase in stride duration of 1.05 ms per 100 m galloped (p = 0.01) compared to horses which did not have time off. Horses demonstrate an adaptation to high-speed exercise over time. SD decreases with training when other factors are controlled for in naïve horses.

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