Science & Equine

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Written by Aleksandra Dimitrova
Posted in Physiology

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Effects of stress on the performance of sport horses

Horses are extraordinary athletes who have been adapted to a large variety of uses depending on their built and aptitude - from agricultural and military, to sport and transportation. A problem that often occurs is pushing these animals to limits that would not be normally pursued in the wild. This can cause stress and reduce one`s performance. Stress could have either positive or negative effect on the horse`s body and therefore either enhance or limit performance. One of the big problems that stress can lead to, is lowering an animal`s economic value, which nowadays is important for everyone in the equine industry.

Stress can affect performance in several ways, however, there are methods of improvement. If animal selecting improves and genetic selection is made by sport performance, animals will have the chance to adapt better to the conditions of their discipline. Selection of the discipline according to the horses` best physical and physiological predisposition is also key. Less stressful techniques of training can be used giving the animals the chance to gradually get used to different stressors, especially the ones that are unavoidable in future competitions. It is also of high importance for breeders, riders and owners to better recognise stress in their horses.

> From: Bartolome et al., JEVS 40 (2016) 84-93. All rights reserved to 2016 Elsevier Inc. Elsevier Inc.. Click here for the online summary.

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