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Vet Res Commun. 1996;20(4):371-9.

Relationship of plasma lactate production to cortisol release following completion of different types of sporting events in horses.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Li├Ęge, Belgium.


Fifty-eight healthy horses were studied during five sporting events of various intensities and durations, namely show-jumping (n = 6), cross-country in a three-day event (n = 30), trotting races (n = 7), galloping races (n = 7) and endurance rides (n = 8). Venous blood samples were collected at rest and immediately after exercise and analysed for plasma cortisol (CORT) and lactate (LA) levels. The experimental procedure was the same throughout the investigation so as to permit a reliable comparison between the five types of exercise. The type of event significantly affected both the resting (p < or = 0.05) and the post-exercise (p < or = 0.01) plasma CORT. The degree of exercise-induced hypercortisolaemia was related to both the intensity and the duration of exercise for all five sporting events, but the endurance ride induced the most and show-jumping the least serious post-exercise CORT changes. LA production was much more closely related to the intensity of the exercise than was CORT. It is concluded that simultaneous measurements of plasma CORT and LA levels may be useful to discriminate between different types of exercise, adjust training programmes, and improve our comprehension of the physiology of sport horses at exercise.

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