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Research article2017Peer reviewed

Physiological response to an experimental 100 m flying pace race in Icelandic horses and effect of rider

Stefansdottir, G. J.; Gunnarsson, V. Th.; Ragnarsson, S.; Jansson, A.


This study evaluated the physiological response to an experimental 100 m flying pace race (EPR) in Icelandic horses with pace-competition experience, and whether there was an effect of rider. A cross-over design with nine horses and two riders was used. The EPR was performed twice (once with each rider) with four days of rest in-between. The EPR consisted of two runs (I and II), of which at least 100 m was in pace at full speed according to international competition rules. Plasma lactate concentration increased and was greater after pace run II than I (18.5 +/- 1.3 vs 11.9 +/- 0.7 mmol/l; P< 0.001). Heart rate was higher during pace run I than II (207 +/- 3 vs 205 +/- 3; P=0.02). Heart rate and Lact had not recovered 30 min post exercise but Hct was back to resting level after 30 min recovery. Speed did not differ between riders and pace runs (pooled mean +/- standard deviation of pace runs: 10.4 +/- 0.7 m/s, range 9.2-12.1 m/s) but HR and Lact were higher from warm-up and until 30 min recovery with rider 1 than 2 (P< 0.001). There was a negative correlation between post EPR Lact with rider 1 and previous best record (r(2)=0.72, P=0.032). To conclude, a 100 m flying pace race in the Icelandic horse is a high-intensity exercise and anaerobic metabolism is crucial for performance. The rider had an effect on the physiological response but it is unclear if it was due to body weight, riding style or both. The practical relevance of the differences observed between riders remains to be proven but our results indicate that they may have limited impact on single day competitions since the speed was the same with the two riders.


age; equine; exercise; heart rate; lactate

Published in

Comparative Exercise Physiology
2017, Volume: 13, number: 4, pages: 205-215