ridecamp@endurance.net: Re: [endurance] Any results?

Re: [endurance] Any results?

K S Swigart (katswig@deltanet.com)
Sat, 20 Jul 1996 19:19:36 -0700 (PDT)

On Sat, 20 Jul 1996, Monika & Don Smith wrote:

> Hi Kat,
> >I have gotten the weight loss/gain data back already, but they are still
> >working on the blood/urine work so have seen no results yet.
> >
> Just following up on your last email on these tests. Any results yet? I
> read the lastest Equus article on testing horses (Cash's results were
> noted) and I found that very interesting! Are they going to publish results
> for the non-science person like me, ie, adapts article for EN, Trail Blazer
> or Equus or ?

I just (Friday) got a copy of the paper that was the outcome of all the
samples they took from all the horses. It was published in
Pferdeheilkunde (which presuably is some German horse health veterinary
publication) but it is definitely not reading for the general public. I
amm intending to contact the and see if I can get the raw data from my
horse (so I can see how he compared to the average, and get an idea of
what I may or may not need to adjust in my electrolyte supplementation
program), and additionally, I intend to discuss some the the results with
my vet and hope that he can tell me what the hell some of these things
actually mean.

The paper itself assumes a great deal of prior knowledge that I don't
have. (I actually suspect that it assumes a great deal of prior knowledge
that even most of the vets who are reading it don't have, but at least
they will have access to some of the other publications referred to and
will have an idea about what are normal values for the general population
of non-endurance horses).

If you think many people would be interested, I would be willing to
arrange with the vets who did the study to take the time to rewrite the
paper for them so it would be meaningful to the non-science person and
maybe it could be published in some mainstream publication (in English).

There is clearly LOTS of data that they have collected which neither
supported nor refuted their hypothesis and therefore was only mentioned
in passing (or not at all).

I fully intend to quiz them a great deal about their study, beyond what
they published.

That said, here is the summary of their paper:

"In summary, the horses studied in this multi-day endurance ride (the 265
mile Outlaw Trail, 1995) did not develop progressively greater losses of
body weight but appeared to experience progressive electrolyte depletion.
Interstingly, loss of horses from competition for development of metabolic
problems (such as colic) was only observed on the first two days of the
ride. During days 3-5, the causes for elimination of other horses was
development of a sore back or lameness. These observations are supportive
of anectodal experience that horses tend to perform better towards the end
of these multi-day rides. Further, although there was no age difference
between successful horses and horses which failed ot complete the ride,
successful horses had more years of prior endurance competition. Thus,
although the results of this study suggest that multi-day rides are a
humane equine endeavor, the latter observation warrants the atteention of
ride organizers. Since horses with less endurance training and
competitive experience are less likely to complete a multi-day ride,
successful completion of a number of single day rides should perhaps be
required for entry into a multi-day ride."

My only personal caveat to this is that there is no mention as to whether
the number of years experience the horse had is directly linked to the
number of years experience the rider had, and if, in that case, it would
be inexperienced riders rather than inexperienced horses are less likely
to complete.

There are many references to other papers on related experiments conducted
along these similar lines, which I, personally would find very
interesting and will probably hunt down. Other people who are interested
can contact me and I will let them know what I find out.

> If there were a simple field test that vets could use in conjunction with
> the standard evaluations used now, it would be that much easier to
> determine if horses were going beyond their limits and would greatly
> enhance the safety factors. Looks like it's a ways to go though.

I, personally, am a BIG fan of the CRI and think it is probably one of
the most underused diagnostic tools that we have, and wish that it were a
required evaluation at a vet check (especially those later in a ride). I
think that if it were more rigorously applied there would be much fewer
horses that need to be treated after the ride is over.

None of the tests that were done as part of this study could be easily
done in the field. The blood and urine samples are useless in the field
and the body weight data was almost entirely a function of how much water
the horse had drunk (some of it was loss of bulk in the GI tract because
endurance horses don't eat enough). And besides, getting the horses on
and off the scale, removing the tack to make the data relevant, and
calibrating the scale in the field were a pain in the ass. To do it
during the ride would have been an even bigger pain in the ass.

Anyone who has any more questions (or would like a copy of the
paper...you have to be able to understand a great deal about blood
analyses and about statistical analyses to get much of anything out of
it) can e-mail me privately.

Orange County, Calif.

p.s. My own personal anecdotal experience with the effects of multi-day
rides on my horse was that my horse suffered a great deal of muscle
fatigue. And that the loss of contents in the GI tract (i.e. the horses
just don't get a chance to eat enough) is NOT irrelevant, and that it is
probably this muscle fatigue that contributes to the sore backs and the

Additionally, I noticed that the condition of the rider had a BIG effect
on the ability of the horse to complete the multi-day rides. Horses with
riders that could not maintain a balanced seat throughout the ride were
also the ones that experienced sore backs and lameness. For myself, I
find that is a serious problem...as I fatigue, I have a tendency to ride
heavy to the right (I usually begin to notice this at about mile 80 of a
100 miler, I didn't notice it at all at multi-day rides as I have a
chance to rest after 50 or 55 miles).