The running performance of Thoroughbred racehorses has been reported to peak when they are between 4 and 5 years old. However, changes in their racing speed by month or season have not been reported. The purposes of this study were to reveal the average racing speed of Thoroughbreds, and observe changes in their average speed with age. The surveyed races were flat races on turf and dirt tracks with firm or standard track conditions held by the Japan Racing Association from January 1st, 2002 to December 31st, 2010. The racing speed of each horse was calculated by dividing the race distance (m) by the horse’s final time (sec). Average speeds per month for each age and distance condition were calculated for each gender group when there were 30 or more starters per month for each age and distance condition for each gender group. The common characteristic change for all conditions was an average speed increase up until the first half of the age of 4 years old. The effect of increased carry weight on average speed was small, and average speed increased with the growth of the horse. After the latter half of the age of 4 years old, the horses’ average speed remained almost constant, with little variation. It is speculated that decreases in the weight carried; and the retirement of less well performing horses; are responsible for the maintenance of average speed.
Development and endocrine changes in Thoroughbreds colts and fillies were compared between those reared at two facilities of the Japan Racing Association, the Hidaka Training and Research Center (Hidaka) and Miyazaki Yearling Training Farm (Miyazaki). Thoroughbred colts and fillies born in Japan between 2003 and 2010 were used. Each colt group and filly group was divided into 2 groups, respectively, and raised in Hidaka or Miyazaki for 7 months from September at 1 year old to April at 2 years old. For the growth parameters, the body weight, height at withers, and girth and cannon circumferences were measured once a month. For parameters of endocrine function, circulating prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), testosterone, progesterone, and estradiol-17β levels were measured. Regarding growth, the rate of increase over the 7-month period was significantly higher in both colts and fillies raised in Miyazaki than in Hidaka in all 4 parameters: body weight, height at withers, and girth and cannon circumferences. The endocrine changes of the colts and fillies born in 2007 were as follows. In colts, although circulating prolactin tended to be higher in colts reared in Hidaka from October to April, circulating LH, FSH, testosterone, estradiol-17β and IGF-1 tended to be higher in colts reared in Miyazaki than in Hidaka, suggesting that the gonadotropin-releasing hormone-LH/FSH system and the growth hormone-IGF-1 system were more active in colts reared in Miyazaki as compared with those reared in Hidaka. In fillies, circulating prolactin tended to be higher in fillies reared in Hidaka in February and March, but no significant difference was noted in the serum LH, FSH, IGF-1, or progesterone level between the 2 groups. Circulating estradiol-17β tended to be higher in fillies reared in Miyazaki than in Hidaka in October and November. Regarding ovarian function, the initial ovulation occurred by the end of March in 2 (16.7%) of 12 fillies reared in Hidaka and 7 (38.9%) of 18 fillies reared in Miyazaki, suggesting that the ovarian function was more active in fillies reared in Miyazaki as compared with those reared in Hidaka. Based on these findings, it was clarified that development of the body and gonads was faster in Miyazaki compared with Hidaka in both colts and fillies.
The effects of an extended photoperiod (EP) in Thoroughbreds colts and fillies from winter at one year old to spring at two years old on the gonadal functions, coat condition, and endocrine changes were investigated. Sixty-two Thoroughbreds (31 colts and 31 fillies) reared in the Hidaka Training and Research Center (Hidaka), Japan Racing Association were used. Thirty of them (15 colts and 15 fillies) were reared under EP conditions from December 20 to April 10, and the remaining 32 horses were reared under natural light alone as a control group. For EP, a 100-watt white bulb was set near the ceilings of stalls, and lighting conditions of 14.5-hr light and 9.5-hr dark periods were established. Blood was collected from the jugular vein once a month from October at one year old to February at two years old in both colts and fillies, and then twice a month in colts and weekly in fillies after March, and the coat condition was evaluated in January and April in 56 horses. To investigate endocrine changes, the plasma concentrations of prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), immunoreactive (ir-) inhibin, testosterone, estradiol-17β and progesterone were measured. No significant difference was noted in the coat condition between the two groups in January, but they changed from winter to summer coats (molting of winter coats) in April in the EP group compared with the control group. Regarding endocrine changes, the plasma concentrations of prolactin, FSH, ir-inhibin and testosterone were significantly higher in the EP colts than in the control group from January to April. The plasma concentrations of LH tended to rise in the EP colts from January to April compared with the control group. In the EP fillies, the plasma concentrations of prolactin, LH, ir-inhibin, estradiol-17β and progesterone were significantly higher during January and April, but a significantly high level of FSH was noted in the control than EP group in January. The ovulation day was advanced in the EP fillies compared with the control group. The present study clearly demonstrated that EP treatment during rearing advanced the molting of winter coats in both colts and fillies. These results suggested to be due to the action of prolactin being increased by EP treatment. In addition, EP treatment stimulated the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis even in yearlings, and advanced ovulation in fillies. Since EP treatment-induced changes in the yearlings were within the physiological range, and the method is safe and simple, EP treatment may be an effective technique in horse husbandry.
We applied aluminum hinged shoes (AHSs) to the club foot-associated contracted feet of 11 Thoroughbred yearlings to examine the effects of the shoes on the shape of the hoof and third phalanx (P III). After 3 months of AHS use, the size of the affected hooves increased significantly, reaching the approximate size of the healthy contralateral hooves with respect to the maximum lateral width of the foot, the mean ratio of the bearing border width to the coronary band width, and the mean ratio of the solar surface width to the articular surface width. These results suggest that the AHSs corrected the contracted feet in these yearling horses.