EQUINE NEWS

Measuring horse heart rhythms ...August 2007

Racing Standardbreds

A new study investigating heart rate and rhythm in horses during racing is being conducted at Mohawk Racetrack this summer.

Funded by Equine Guelph, the project is the largest of its kind and is headed by Drs. Peter Physick- Sheard and Kim McGurrin, in co-operation of the Ontario Racing Commission, The Ontario Harness Horseman’s Association and Woodbine Entertainment Group.

Two races a night, two nights a week, the research group (Drs Sheard, McGurrin, and students Jordan Cook, Amanda Rosborough, Amy Bennett, Cristine Culbert, Kristy Desroche and Sarah Kingma) will be at Mohawk Racetrack placing Holter monitors on all horses in selected races.

The Holter monitors, and the electrode harnesses designed by the team, will be placed on the horses at warm-up and will be removed at the time the race-harnesses are removed from the horses.

The recording device is designed to be unobtrusive and is built-in to a thin, lightweight girth that fits under the regular racing harness.

The purpose of the study is to investigate the ranges of heart rate and rhythm present in horses during racing, to establish normal values allowing for further investigations into poor performance, cardiac dysrhythmias and sudden collapse or death during exercise.

Data will be collected until recordings from 300 horses have been acquired. It is expected that preliminary results will be available in 2008.

— Kim McGurrin

To learn more about current equine research