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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of horse housing on musculoskeletal system post-exercise recovery

Connysson, M.; Rhodin, M.; Bergh, A.; Jansson, A.


This study examined the effects of two housing systems (control housing and loose housing) on musculoskeletal condition during recovery from race-like exercise in Standardbred horses. The hypothesis was that a loose housing system provides better conditions for musculoskeletal recovery than the control housing. Eight adult geldings (mean age 11 years) were used in a study with a cross-over design, with the control housing (CH) and loose housing (LH) treatments each run for 21 days. The horses had ad libitum access to forage and performed two similar race-like exercise tests (ET), on day 7 and day 14 in each treatment. Blood samples were collected before ET, at finish line, and at 7, 22, and 44 h of recovery and analysed for the muscle enzyme activities of creatine kinase and amino transferase. Before and three days after ET, hind leg fetlock joint region circumference and diameter, joint range of motion in right hock and carpus, mechanical nociceptive threshold in back muscle, and movement asymmetry were recorded. Overall circumference and overall diameter of hind fetlock joint region were lower in LH horses than CH horses (P=0.045 and P=0.017, respectively), but no other differences were observed. In conclusion, a loose housing system did not alter the recovery of musculoskeletal condition other than preventing a post exercise enlargement of the circumference and diameter of the hind fetlock joint region.


Standardbred trotters; tape measure; slide calliper; algometer; management system

Published in

Comparative Exercise Physiology
2021, Volume: 17, number: 5, pages: 421-428