Lameness and heart rate elevation in the exercising horse

Jonathan H. Foreman, Laurie M. Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Seven, healthy, conditioned, Quarter Horse mares with previous treadmill experience were each fitted with an adjustable heart bar shoe on the left front foot and a counterbalanced bar shoe on the right front foot. Three treatments were studied: sound, slightly lame, and obviously lame at a trot. Each subject performed one standardized exercise test (SET) daily on three consecutive days. Each subject underwent one treatment during a SET. Treatment order was randomly assigned. The SET consisted of a 5-rain exercise period at 3.2 m/sec on a treadmill at an 11% grade. Heart rate (HR) was determined at rest, 20 rain after the induction of lameness before the SET, during the last 30 sec of the SET, and at 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 60 min postexercise. The Student's paired t test was used to compare HR means for the three treatments at each monitoring interval. Heart rate was higher in slightly lame trials compared to sound trials as rest and at 0.5 through 10 and 30 through 60 min postexercise (P<0.05 to P<0.001). Lame trials evidenced higher HRs than slightly lame trials at rest and at 0.5, 2, 4, and 5 rain of recovery (P<0.05). When lame HRs were compared to sound HRs, differences were noted at rest and at 0.5 through 60 min postexercise (P<0.01 to P<0.001). The heart bar shoe as designed for the treatment of laminitis was effective as a noninvasive, nonpermanent model of lameness pain in normal horses. Increases in HR at rest and during recovery from exercise were observed with experimentally induced lameness. The degree of HR increase seen with lameness was a function of the degree of lameness induced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-356
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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