Equine Physiological Responses to Training Methods in Cutting Horses

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Sciences

Date of Award

Summer 2018


Previous researchers have evaluated stress hormone response to training methods and intensity of exercise, which may lead to decreased performance for horses in training. The researcher compared the physiological responses during both flag and live cow training treatments. 14 horses were used at a privately-owned training facility. Flag and live cow treatments were performed for each horse over a course of 4 days. Flag treatment consisted of a training session under direction of a rider where a mechanical flag on a pulley system was used and movement was more controlled. Live cow treatment consisted of a training session where a live animal was used, and its movement was less predictable. Physiological stress response was measured using blood glucose, lactate, cortisol levels, and heart rate. Baseline parameters were obtained before a warm-up session (pre -15) and then at post 0, 15, 30, and 45 minutes after both flag and live cow treatments. Statistical analyses were performed using Proc Mixed in SAS. There was no significance across both treatments and treatment by time interactions within all measurements with the exception of lactate. However, this interaction was not reported due to a treatment by time interaction for measurement of lactate. No significance was observed between sex and measurements in glucose (p = .275), lactate (p = .0428), and cortisol (p = .323). Significance was observed between time interaction and measurements in glucose (p < .0001), cortisol (p < .0001), and heart rate (p < .0001). Significance was also observed between sex and heart rate (p = .0320) with mares and geldings having similar heart rates (47.6 ± 1.6 bpm and 46.3 ± 1.0 bpm) and the stallion having a lower heart rate (38.1 ± 3.1 bpm). Treatment by time interaction was significant in the measurement of lactate (p = .0442). While in some cases values approached baseline normal, none of the measurements (0, 15, 30, and 45) returned to baseline by the end of 45 minutes.


Douglas Eborn

Subject Categories

Agriculture | Life Sciences