A comparison of cross-country recovery rates at CCI 2* with and without steeplechase competitions

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Abstract

Reasons for performing study:

Short format 3-day events were introduced in 2004. Anecdotal reports suggested that horses were more tired on completion of the cross-country phase of short format events when compared with horses completing the cross-country phase of long format competitions, despite the absence ofPhases A, BandC.

Objectives:

To compare the physiological parameters and haematological parameters of horses that had completed the cross-country phase of a short format (SF) and a long format (LF) CCI 2* competition.

Methods:

During a CCI 2* competition 69 competitors took part in the short format and 74 in the long format competition. Long format competitors completedPhases A, B, CandDand short format competitors completedPhase Donly.Phase D(the cross-country course) was identical for both competitions. Two-way ANOVA for repeated measures andpost hoctests were used to compare temperature, pulse and respiration rates of horses competing in both types of competition.Ttests were used to compare mean lactate and electrolyte concentrations, while U-Mann Whitney tests were used to compare CK and AST levels measured in horses competing in the short and long formats of the event.

Results:

Training schedules, age and previous competition experience were not significantly different between horses competing in the SF and LF competitions. On completion ofPhase D, SF horses had significantly higher PCV and significantly lower ionised calcium concentrations when compared with LF horses. LF horses had significantly higher heart rates than SF horses 10 min prior to startingPhase Dand immediately after completingPhase D; however, no other significant differences were found between the 2 groups of horses.

Conclusions:

Only weak evidence was found to support the hypothesis that the workload for the horse in a SF CCI 2* competition is significantly different when compared to the LF CCI 2* competition.

Potential relevance:

There is no beneficial or detrimental effect on horses that complete short format CCI 2* competitions as compared to those that complete long format CCI 2* competitions but further research is required into the physiological response of horses at CCI 3* and CCI 4* short format competitions.

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