Physiological responses in nonheat acclimated horses performing treadmill exercise in cool (20 degrees C/40% RH), hot dry (30 degrees C/40% RH) and hot humid (30 degrees C/80% RH) conditions.Equine Vet J Suppl. 1996 JulEV
The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of different environmental conditions on physiological response to exercise. Four winter acclimatised, nonheat acclimated horses of different breeds were exercised at 20 degrees C/40% RH (CD), 30 degrees C/40% RH (HD) and 30 degrees C/80% RH (HH). The exercise test was designed to represent the structure and intensity of a One star Speed and Endurance test (competition exercise test [CET]). All 4 horses were able to complete the full CET (60 min + 30 min active recovery) in CD and HD, but only one horse completed the CET in HH. Two horses were stopped because of pronounced general fatigue and one because of a right atrial temperature (TRA) of 43 degrees C. Oxygen uptake on each phase was not different between CD and HD, but was higher during Phases B, C and D in HH. Mean peak TRA at the end of Phase D was 40.3 +/- 0.2, 41.6 +/- 0.4 and 42 +/- 0.3 degrees C for CD, HD and HH, respectively. Corresponding, mean peak rectal temperatures (TREC) following Phase D were 39.5 +/- 0.1, 40.6 +/- 0.1 and 41.5 +/- 0.1 degree C for CD, HD and HH, respectively. Mean time to peak TREC was 9.3 +/- 1.1 (CD), 7.3 +/- 1.8 (HD) and 10.8 +/- 2.3 (HH) min and was not significantly different between conditions (P > 0.05). Heat dissipation amounted to 83 +/- 1, 73 +/- 2 and 70 +/- 1% of heat production in CD, HD and HH, respectively. Weight loss was significantly correlated with both body surface area (CD r = 0.85; HD r = 0.87; HH r = 0.81) and bodyweight (CD r = 0.97; HD r = 0.93; HH r = 0.94). The greatest weight loss recorded was 4.6% bodyweight in one horse in HD. The mean increase in exercise intensity over the whole CET (in terms of VO2) of HD and HH and HH compared with CD was 5 +/- 3 and 14 +/- 3% higher, respectively. The exercise induced hyperthermia and the reduced capacity for heat dissipation produced partial compensatory responses in minute ventilation (VE), particularly during Phase C, when the horses were trotting. In HD, the increase in VE was achieved mainly through an increase in frequency, whilst in HH it was achieved through an increase in tidal volume (VT). The horses demonstrated a high degree of tolerance to environmental heat load, suggesting a high thermoregulatory capacity. However, for unacclimatised animals exercising in severely hot and humid conditions, performance may be limited.