Comparison of Conditioned and Non-conditioned University Horses After Semester Break

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Klingaman, Jenelle
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Middle Tennessee State University
During periods of disuse, horses often receive pasture turn-out without exercise. This study evaluated fitness of conditioned and non-conditioned horses after a semester break. Twelve mature horses were assigned to a conditioned group that maintained light-to-moderate riding or non-conditioned group receiving no ridden exercise during summer break. Research began at the beginning of Fall semester. On d 0, 14, and 28 heart rate and physical measurements were recorded. Peak heart rate was not different between treatments (P=0.17) but increased for both treatments throughout the study (P=0.04). Resting heart rate of conditioned horses tended to be lower (P=0.08). Gaskin circumference of non-conditioned horses was larger (P=0.04), although non-conditioned horses tended to have larger average body weight (P=0.07). Conditioned horses had higher topline muscling scores (P=0.02). Horses that were conditioned over a semester break had mixed improvement in fitness suggesting that horses retain a degree of fitness during rest with pasture turn-out.
Conditioning, Fitness, University Horses, Animal sciences