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Acta Vet Hung. 2017 Dec;65(4):541-545. doi: 10.1556/004.2017.052.

Effect of temperament on cortisol response to a single exercise bout in Thoroughbred racehorses - short communication.

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1 MTA-SZIE Large Animal Clinical Research Group , Üllő, Dóra major, H-2225 , Hungary.
2 Department of Biomathematics and Informatics, University of Veterinary Medicine , Budapest , Hungary.
3 Institute of Animal Husbandry, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Science, Szent István University , Gödöllő , Hungary.


Temperament has not been taken into account in previous studies evaluating the stress response to exercise in horses. The aim of the present study was to investigate the cortisol response in Thoroughbred racehorses to a single exercise bout, and to analyse the results based on the basic personality of the horse examined. Twenty healthy Thoroughbred horses were selected for the study based on a 25-item rating questionnaire survey used for characterising equine temperament. Eight temperamental and twelve calm horses took part in the experiment. The horses trotted as a warm-up activity, and then galloped on a rounded sand track. Blood sampling was conducted four times for each horse. Horses with a more excitable temperament showed a higher cortisol response to the test (P = 0.036). In conclusion, cortisol levels in response to a mild intensive exercise can be affected by temperament in horses. Serum cortisol may be a relevant marker to quantify individual temperamental differences in racehorses.


Stress; blood plasma; cortisol response; equine; exercise

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