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PREVALENCE OF LAMENESS AND METABOLIC DISORDERS IN ENDURANCE HORSES

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This study was carried out to investigate the prevalence of equine lameness and metabolic disorders in endurance horses during an endurance race. Out of 67 horses that participated in the race, 19 horses completed the race successfully without any derangement while 48 horses were eliminated from the race for various disorders. Fifty-three (53.73%) percent of these horses had metabolic disorders and 17.91% were eliminated due to lameness. The study showed that the highest number of endurance horses that were eliminated were due to metabolic disorders followed by lameness. These findings may assist veterinarians in designing laudable measures in the management and conditioning protocols of endurance horses during training and further prevent the morbidity and mortality during endurance races.
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Mal aysi an Journal of Veterinary r esearchVolume 3 No. 1 JANuARY 2012
33
Volume 3 No. 1 JANuARY 2012 • pages 33-37
ABSTRACT. This study was carried out
to investigate the prevalence of equine
lameness and metabolic disorders in
endurance horses during an endurance race.
Out of 67 horses that par ticipated in the race,
19 horses completed the race successfully
without any derangement while 48 horses
were eliminated from the race for various
disorders. Fifty-three (53.73%) percent of
these horses had metabolic disorders and
17.91% were eliminated due to lameness.
The study showed that the highest
number of endurance horses that were
eliminated were due to metabolic disorders
followed by lameness. These findings
may assist veterinarians in designing
laudable measures in the management and
conditioning protocols of endurance horses
during training and further prevent the
morbidity and mortality during endurance
races.
Keywords: endurance, horse,
metabolic disorders, lameness and
mor bidit y.
INTRODUCTION
The prominent causes of lameness in
endurance horses are associated to wear
and tear injuries due to concussion and
the additional loading of the joints and
tendons by continues long distance races.
However, the cumulative effects of long
distance races, specifically over rough and
hard, concussive surfaces, aggravated by
conformational weaknesses, poorly made
shoes and nutritional imbalances, can
escalate the incidence of bone, joint and
tendon injuries, especially as a horse ages.
The occurrences of lameness are lowered
in properly conditioned horses that have
adapted and strengthened their musculo-
skeletal structures to withstand the rigors
of endurance races (Whitney et al., 1996).
On examination before, during and
after races revealed an association of heart
rate, cardiac recovery index, abnormal
gastrointestinal sounds and gait with
elimination of endurance horses from race
during competition (Fielding et al., 2 011).
Assessment of the fitness of a horse is
by thorough physical examination of heart
PREVALENCE OF LAMENESS AND METABOLIC
DISORDERS IN ENDURANCE HORSES
LAWAN A.1,3, NORANIZA M.A.1, RASEDEE A.2 AND BASHIR A.1
1 Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400
UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
2 Department of Veterinary Pathology and Microbiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Universiti Putra Malaysia,43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
3 Department of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maiduguri,
PMB1069, Borno State, Nigeria
Corresponding Author: drlawan3758@yahoo.com
Mal aysi an Journal of Veterinary r esearch Volume 3 No. 1 JANuARY 2012
34
rates, respiratory rates and conformation
(Cottin et al., 2006; Bashir and Rasedee,
2009). The active muscles of endurance
horses depend on heart size and capacity to
deliver large volumes of blood to the tissues
and the splenic reserves supply (Persson
and Lydin, 1973; Lawan, et al., 2010).
Endurance horses need calcium for muscle
fiber activities and decreased plasma levels
of calcium during strenuous endurance
rides can cause metabolic disorders,
including synchronous diaphragmatic
flutter. However, increased blood calcium
concentration is unwanted because it
may increase the odds of thumps during
endurance competitions (Lewis, 1995).
The most dehydrated horses are
at greatest risk of developing metabolic
problems and exhaustion (Harold, 2010).
Once the intensity of race reaches a certain
threshold, energy is partially provided
by anaerobic metabolism. Consequently,
lactic acid efflux, from cells to the blood
occurs, and blood lactate increases (Snow
and Valberg, 1994).
During endurance races, the
primary mechanism for heat removal is
the evaporation of sweat. The water from
sweating is derived from both extracellular
and intracellular fluids, and indicates a loss
of over 15% of total body water. Sweat is
hypertonic in comparison to plasma (Rose
et al., 1980). Therefore, its production is
followed by a loss of electrolytes. This
change in fluid and electrolytes levels
impairs performance ability, and may even
be life-threatening (McConaghy, 1994).
Lameness and metabolic derangements are
the major causes of reduced performance
in endurance horses. Therefore, this study
was conducted to investigate the prevalence
of equine lameness and metabolic disorders
in endurance horses during an endurance
race.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Subjects
Sixty-seven endurance horses participated
in endurance competitions of 40, 80 and
120 km racing category. Among these,
48 horses were eliminated and 19 horses
completed the race successfully.
Veterinary inspection
Veterinary inspection was conducted after
each loop of the race on all competing
horses and physical parameters recorded.
The physical parameters evaluated were
the resting heart rate, cardiac recovery
index (CRI), the gut sound, dehydration
status, capillary refill time, color of
mucous membrane, the muscle and anal
tone and the gait soundness. All these
parameters were re-evaluated and recorded
each time the horses enter the vet-check
after each loop of the race. The horses
were also observed for soreness or injuries
on the back, withers, girth area, body or
distal extremities. Good performance
horses continue the race in the subsequent
loop, while poor performance horses are
eliminated either due to metabolic ailments
Mal aysi an Journal of Veterinary r esearchVolume 3 No. 1 JANuARY 2012
35
or due to lameness and are sent to the clinic
for treatments and further workout.
Blood samples from the jugular vein
were obtained from the eliminated horses
with metabolic disturbances that are sent to
the clinic for treatments and also from the
good performance endurance horses using
21G needles in ethyldiaminotetra-acetic
acid (EDTA) for whole blood analysis,
lithium heparin for serum biochemistry.
Other instruments were the hematocrit
centrifuge machine to obtain plasma for
biochemistry analysis, the hematocrit
centrifuge for hemoglobin concentrations
analysis, by (Hettich-Hematocrit 210
and micro hematocrit reader-Hawksley),
spectrophotometer (UV/visible-Secomam-
Anthelie Advanced) as well as the
Automatic Hematology Analyzer (Abbot-
cell Dyn 3700) for blood cells count.
Descriptive statistic was used to analyse
the results using statistical software JMP
9, SAS.
RESU LT
Forty-eight (48) horses were eliminated
from the endurance competition. Nineteen
(19) horses managed to complete the
race without metabolic signs. A total of
36 (53.73%) and 12 (17.91%) horses were
eliminated due to metabolic disorders and
lameness respectively as shown in Figure
1 and 2.
status by status
completed eliminated
status
- 0.4 - 0.2 0 0.2 0.4
0
10
20
30
40
50
- 0.4 - 0.2 0 0.2 0.4
number of horses
number of horses
Figure 1. Status of performance in endurance horses
Mal aysi an Journal of Veterinary r esearch Volume 3 No. 1 JANuARY 2012
36
DISCUSSION
This study shows that up to 71.64% of the
horse population in one of the endurance
races in Malaysia were eliminated
from the endurance race due to various
derangements comprising of metabolic
disorders and lameness. This may be due
to the small number of horses exposed
to inappropriate conditioning protocols
that are continuously being circulated for
endurance races.
The results show that approximately
28.36% of these horses managed to
complete the races in good condition.
Metabolic disorders seem to be the major
contributory factor in elimination of
horses from races. The metabolic disorders
include high heart rates, dehydration,
increase capillary refill time, severely
congested mucus membrane and decrease
gut motility. Endurance horses need
calcium for muscle contractions. Low and
very high plasma levels of calcium during
strenuous endurance rides can lead to
metabolic problems (Lewis, 1995).
The most dehydrated horses are
at greatest risk of developing metabolic
problems and exhaustion (Harold, 2010).
When endurance race is prolonged in such
situations, muscle strain may occur, giving
way to muscle damage and myopathy
(Arthur, 2005). Sweat production is
accompanied by a loss of electrolytes.
This change in fluid and electrolytes levels
impairs performance ability, and may be
life-threatening (McConaghy, 1994). The
wear and tear injuries due to concussion
and the additional loading of the joints and
tendons by continues long distance races is
one of the major causes of lameness during
endurance ride (Whitney et al., 1996).
Figure 2. Percentage prevalence of derangements in endurance horses
prevalence % by derangements
prevalence %
metabolic disorders
derangememnts
- 0.4 - 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
- 0.4 - 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 - 0.4 - 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4
prevalence %
lameness none
Mal aysi an Journal of Veterinary r esearchVolume 3 No. 1 JANuARY 2012
37
CONCLUSION
The study showed that the highest number
of endurance horses that were eliminated
were due to metabolic disorders followed
by lameness. These findings may assist
veterinarians in designing laudable
measures in the management and of
endurance horses during training and
further prevent the morbidity and mortality
during endurance races.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. T he authors appreciate the ef fort
and assistance offered Mr. Mohamed Halmi Othman, Mr.
Abdullah Misron, the staffs of Veterinary Teaching Hospital,
Universiti P utra Malaysia especially Mr. Salehuddin and
Drs Moham mad Fairuz Jamaludd in, Muhammad Munsiff
Kamarudin and Mimi Armilad iana Mohamad for their
assista nce, advice a nd encouragement.
... Elimination rates in endurance races differ from one geographical area to another (Nagy, Murray, & Dyson, 2014). For instance, eliminations for metabolic disorders occur more often in hot and humid countries (Flaminio & Rush, 1998;Lawan, Noraniza, Rasedee, & Bashir, 2012). Numerous studies have established that a blend of hard tracks, abrupt vicissitudes in track surface and high speed might be linked with high elimination rates for lameness (Fraipont et al., 2011;Lawan, Ahmad Fadly, Noraniza, Abdullah, & Bashir, 2017;Nagy et al., 2014). ...
... In Malaysia, Adamu, Adzahan, Abdullah, and Ahmad (2012); reported that 71.64% of the horses were eliminated from the races mainly due to metabolic disorders (53.73%) followed by lameness (17.91%) (Lawan et al., 2012). The authors also study the possible causes of elimination in endurance horses, which were speed, heart rate, lactate and uric acid (Adamu et al., 2012). ...
... A previous study conducted by Lawan et al. (2012) in Malaysia stated that up to 71.64% of endurance horses were eliminated from the race while only 28.36% of them were able to complete the race successfully. The current study shows that the rate of elimination of endurance horses in Malaysia had been decreased drastically with only 35.05% (CI = lower limit; 28.69%, upper limit; 42%) of horse eliminated from the race. ...
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Effect of fatigue during five successive heats (800-m at high velocity) and recovery runs on heart rate variability in Standardbreds
  • F Cottin
  • E Barrey
  • P Lopes
  • V L Billat
Cottin F., Barrey E., Lopes P. and Billat V.L. (2006). Effect of fatigue during five successive heats (800-m at high velocity) and recovery runs on heart rate variability in Standardbreds. Proceeding of the 7th International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology, Fontainebleau, France pp 68.
Challenges of Endurance Exercise: Hydration and Electrolyte Depletion
  • C S Harold
Harold C.S. (2010). Challenges of Endurance Exercise: Hydration and Electrolyte Depletion. Kentucky Equine Research. pp 94-111.
the staffs of Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Universiti Putra Malaysia especially Mr. Salehuddin and Drs Mohammad Fairuz Jamaluddin, Muhammad Munsiff Kamarudin and Mimi Armiladiana Mohamad for their assistance, advice and encouragement
  • Abdullah Misron
Abdullah Misron, the staffs of Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Universiti Putra Malaysia especially Mr. Salehuddin and Drs Mohammad Fairuz Jamaluddin, Muhammad Munsiff Kamarudin and Mimi Armiladiana Mohamad for their assistance, advice and encouragement.
Thermoregulation the Athletic Horse: Principles and Practice of Equine Sports Medicine
  • F Mcconaghy
McConaghy F. (1994). Thermoregulation. In: Hodgson D.R. and Rose R.J. (Eds.), the Athletic Horse: Principles and Practice of Equine Sports Medicine. W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, pp. 181– 202.