A close relationship between limb and respiratory rhythms has been shown in clinically healthy galloping horses due to mechanical constraints in the thoracic region. This synchronisation leads to a 1/1 ratio between stride frequency (SF) and respiratory frequency (RF) during galloping. Very little is known about locomotor-respiratory coupling (LRC) during fast trot.
To investigate stride and respiratory rates during a standardised exercise test on the track in Standardbred Trotters.
Forty-four French trotters age 2-10 years performed a standardised exercise test consisting of three 3 min steps at constant speeds. Speed (V) of exercise varied between 500 and 750 m/min. Variables measured during exercise: SF, heart rate, RF using a microphone between the nostrils, blood lactate concentration. Physiological variables V4 and V200 were calculated and race performance index recorded.
There was no age-related difference in RF or in LRC. Two LRC strategies were found: around 1/1 ratio and 3/2 ratio between SF and RF, respectively. A relationship between SF/RF ratio and physiological parameters showed a higher LRC in good performers because of a lower RF during submaximal and maximal exercise.
RF is significantly lower and LRC significantly higher in good compared to poor performers.
Investigation is required to ensure that the breathing techniques of trotters may be used in the selection process of racehorses.