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Equine Performance

The Auburn University Veterinary Sports Medicine Program (VSMP) has explored new technologies to test the performance of athletic and working horses. These technologies enable us to monitor horses, while they are working in their environment, and the entirety of the stimuli in that environment. We are able to evaluate horses in a natural non-laboratory setting.  Performance evaluations may include cardiac measurements, blood samples, velocity, distance traveled, and high speed motion analysis of a horse; therefore, we can conduct a more accurate performance evaluation of the horse.

Heart Rate, GPS, and Body Temperature

Utilizing the above mentioned technology, we have developed a way to sample heart rates and core temperature every 10 seconds, while the horse is resting, anticipating work, working, and recovering from work. We can also track data of the horse’s speed and distance covered through global positioning satellite (GPS) technology. GPS allows us to gauge what type of physical work the horse is performing. We can then download that data to a lap top, in the field if necessary, and analyze it, which gives us a more in depth understanding of the metabolic status of the horse.

Temperatures are usually sampled before and after exercise. With this method it is hard to know at what point core temp starts to rise, level off, and fall back down to normal limits. Also with this method it is hard to determine if temperature is affected by certain activities. Our new system can sample 270 individual temperature samples during a 45 minute workout. This would reveal at what point the temperature started to rise, when the temperature started to level off, and when the temperature started to fall during recovery. We feel this system gives us a more accurate representation of metabolic status of the horse.

Motion Analysis

We have the ability to use high speed video cameras to analyze just about any movement or component of movement that a horse executes during a sports skill. Movements can either be analyzed via slow motion analysis or by quantification of kinematic measurements. By using our Peak Motus Software package we can quantify movement by calculating ranges of motion, limb and joint velocities and accelerations, and many other quantified measurements of motion. We are then able to assess body movement to help diagnose an injury, reveal a possible risk of injury, or help refine the movement of a sport skill.              

Epiglottis Function

We are currently experimenting with a new wireless NANO video camera for evaluation of the equine nasopharnex during performance. The camera is approximately 5 mm in diameter, has four LED lights at the end, and is attached to a 30 inch long wire that runs to a small image receiving and transmitting unit. The unit is capable of transmitting the video image up to 100 ft to a laptop or monitor. The laptop can record and store the video image. The video can then be further analyzed by a clinician using motion analysis software. 

© 2009 Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine