Equine Sports Medicine

Exercise Physiology Seminar Selective

Clinical Equine Exercise Physiology - Melissa R. Mazan, DVM, DACVIM, Director of Sports Medicine

Exciting, dynamic, practice-oriented, fun - could this really be physiology? The answer is a resounding 'Yes!' when you're talking about equine exercise physiology. Whether you're competing with your own horse, planning to be a general equine practitioner, or looking for a career in sports medicine, this selective will give you a good foundation for understanding what is happening in the exercising horse.

This seminar-style selective will review cardiovascular and respiratory function in the exercising horse, muscle metabolism, exercise and the immune system, training for speed, strength and endurance, long-term effects of training, the effects of heat and humidity in the exercising horse, nutrition for the sport horse, the use of ergogenic aids, measurement of VO2max, use of treadmills and heart monitors in practice, and will begin to explore the clinical approach to poor performance.

We will meet once a week during the fall semester for two hours. Discussion will be based on primary literature - you'll learn what journals to read, and how to read them effectively. Meeting times are flexible.

This course will also be a pre-requisite for the 4th year clinical treadmill and endoscopy elective.


Week Topic
1 Introduction and Course Organization
Energy Transfer and Expenditure at Rest and During Exercise
2 The Cardiovascular System
Great Athletes and Big Hearts Myocardial adaptations to exercise, resting hemodynamics and exercise, understanding heart rate and exercise
3 Basic Skeletal Muscle Physiology
What makes a Thoroughbred different from a Quarterhorse? Intrinsic differences, training adaptations in skeletal muscle, characteristics of fatigue resistant muscle cells, characteristics of 'strength' muscles
4 Maximal Oxygen Consumption and the Lactate Threshold
Hitting the wall and feeling the burn Definition, determinants, measurement, and implications for performance
5 Biomechanics
Does form follow function? The importance of efficiency, transferring physiological work to movement velocity, skeletal responses to exercise
6 Exercise and the Immune System, Overtraining
How much is too much? Does overtraining exist? Physiologic and psychologic stress, and its effect on the body
7 Ventilation
Oxygen is the ultimate fuel Air exchange, basics of lung function, cost of breathing, O2/CO2 exchange
8 Principles of Training
Can this horse become a winner? Adaptive ability, thresholds and diminishing returns, specificity versus cross training
9 Principles of Training, cont.
Time course of training adaptations
Interval training
Strength training
10 Exercise and the Normal Horse