We evaluated differences in muscle fiber recruitment patterns between continuous and interval training to develop an optimal training program for Thoroughbred horses. Five well trained female thoroughbred horses (3-4 years old) were used. The horses performed two different exercises on a 10% inclined treadmill: 90%VO2 max for 4 min (continuous) and 90% VO2 max for 2 min × 2 times with 10-min interval (interval). Muscle samples were obtained from the middle gluteal muscle before and immediately after the exercises. Four muscle fiber types (type I, IIA, IIA/X, and IIX) were immunohistochemically identified, and the optical density of periodic acid Schiff staining (OD-PAS) in each fiber type and glycogen content of the muscle sample were determined by quantitative histochemical and biochemical procedures, respectively. No significant differences were found in the OD-PASs and glycogen contents between the continuous and interval exercises, but the decreases in OD-PAS of fast-twitch muscle fibers were obvious after interval as compared to continuous exercise. Interval exercise may be a more effective training stimulus for the glycolytic capacity of fast-twitch muscle fiber. The data about muscle fiber recruitment can provide significant insights into the optimal training program not only for thoroughbred horses, but also for human athletes.
Whereas in former times horses were reserved primarily for people involved in agriculture, elite equestrians or the military, nowadays equestrian sport has become an activity for people with a wide variety of backgrounds. However, as more and more people become involved with equestrian sport today, the knowledge concerning animal husbandry in general is diminishing due to an alienation from agricultural themes in modern societies. As a consequence, this development affects both riding ability and the appraisal of horses, especially with respect to the purchase of horses. In order to analyse which factors influence purchase decisions in the horse market in conjunction with equestrian experience, 739 horse riders were surveyed on their purchase behaviour in this study. Using cluster analysis, a typology was generated that provides a differentiated picture of the preferences of the various rider groups. Three clusters were distinguished: the "amateurs", the "experienced" and the "experts". Taking personal horse riding proficiency into account, it could be concluded that especially the "amateur" group required objective criteria for the evaluation of a horse they are considering purchasing. Alongside "measureable" qualities, such as previous showing success or the level of training of the horse, also other attributes such as the simple handling of the horse should be taken into consideration. As particularly the "amateur" group in equestrian sport is increasing in numbers, it is therefore advisable when preparing a horse for sale to align oneself to the needs of this customer segment in order to ensure an effective and targeted marketing of horses.
Using a dataset of 274 male Thoroughbred racehorses in the United States, we study the effect of age on racing performance. Beyer speed figures, which are uniform measures of racing performance across distance and racing surface, are utilized in this study. A system of equations is estimated to determine quadratic improvement and decline in racing performance. We find that a typical horse's peak racing age is 4.45 years. The rate of improvement from age 2 to 4 1/2 is greater than the rate of decline after age 4 1/2. A typical horse will improve by 10 (horse) lengths in sprints (less than 1 mile) and 15 lengths in routes (one mile or greater) from age 2 to 4 1/2. Over the next five years the typical decline is 6 lengths for sprints and 9 1/2 lengths for routes.