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Equine Vet J Suppl. 2010 Nov;(38):665-70. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-3306.2010.00229.x.

Differences in the metabolic properties of gluteus medius and superficial digital flexor muscles and the effect of water treadmill training in the horse.

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College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, USA.



Flexor tendon injury may be due to flexor muscle fatigue, contributing to fetlock joint hyperextension and tendon damage. A water treadmill provides resistance training on flexor tendon muscles, which might reduce the risk of tendon injury.


To determine the effect of water treadmill training on the properties of the gluteal and superficial digital flexor (SDF) muscles and on cardiocirculatory response to a standardised exercise test.


Five healthy unfit horses were trained on a water treadmill for 5 days/week for 4 weeks, starting with 5 min/day increasing to 20 min/day. Before and after the water treadmill training, an incremental SET was performed on a land treadmill to determine velocity at a heart rate 200 beats/min (V(200)) and resting gluteal and SDF muscle biopsies were obtained for biochemical analyses.


There was no measurable difference in resting concentrations of gluteal or SDF muscle glycogen, lactate, ATP or glucose-6-phosphate (G6P), or activities of citrate synthase (CS), 3-hydroxyacyl CoA dehydrogenase (HAD) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) after training and no change in V(200), Lactate, glycogen, G6P and ATP concentrations were 50% lower and type 1 fibres 30% higher in SDF compared to gluteal muscles. CS and HAD activities were similar between SDF and gluteal, while LDH was lower in the SDF muscle.


A more strenuous water treadmill conditioning protocol may be needed to induce a training effect in gluteal and SDF muscle and heart rate response. The low substrate concentrations and oxidative capacity of SDF may predispose this muscle to catastrophic fatigue during maximal exercise.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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