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Re: [RC] Heart Rate Variability - Dyane Smith

On Monday, May 05, 2008 6:16 PM
"k s swigart" <katswig@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Certainly, this report suggests that heart rate variability may have
some predictive value with respect to determing which horses may have
some kind of problem in the near future, and I think it is probably a
good idea to pursue the research further, but it is a long way from
"This method works for horses of all ages and riding disciplines."

One would think that if there were further research that had been done
with respect to heart rate variability's predictive ability, that it
would also be reported in this article (since it IS recent, May 2008);
however, does anybody know of additional research that was done on more
than16 race horses in training?

What I got from the article is that Dr. Ross is looking for funding to
support a large scale follow-up.  Although the original study on 16 horses
was woefully small, the critical factor to me was that the horses studied
all appeared to be fit and healthy, yet the heart rate variability method
accurately predicted future problems for 12 of the 13 horses that the method
had identified as "at-risk".  The fact that one horse was id'd as being
"at-risk" but did not break down still seems to me to support the need for
further study on the use of heart rate variability to see if it could
prevent breakdowns.

Kat also mentioned the resurfacing of the track as an effort toward
prevention.  I guess so but is it working?  I confess I don't follow flat
track racing carefully enough to know.

The other thing that struck me about Dr. Ross' study was the identification
of physiological fatigue as a precursor to injury.  Dr. Ross states that "As
a horse becomes tired, his ability to lift his body weight and rider
decreases, increasing the peak loading of his structures.  ...  Like a pile
driver, over time each stride contributes to microcracking and ultimately
failure and fractures of the bone.  The fracture may indeed be the result of
isolated bone fatigue, but I believe that fatigue of the whole horse often
precedes fatigue of the bone."

I wonder if this isn't consistent with Susan Garlinghouse' study of the
effect of the combined weight of horse and rider on the completion rate of
endurance horses a while back.  And if it might not be significant as some
have mentioned that horses are being bred to be bigger and bigger giving
them much more weight to propel.  It might also be that horses that are
started when they are older than two or three would have more time to build
up bone density and fitness with adequate rest intervals built into the



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[RC] Heart Rate Variability, k s swigart