Sports medicine evaluations help the riders and trainers to optimise the preparation of their horse. They allow designing personalised training programs and as they are associated with an assessment of the horse's health status, they are useful to:
• Evaluate the quality and the level of training
• Diagnose subclinical diseases
• Follow the horse's recovery after a competition or a period of intensive work.
Advice and practical measures are given, in close dialogue with the horse's usual vet.
During a competitive season, a regular follow-up is useful: 2 to 4 appointments are programmed according to the season's objectives and schedule. These evaluations help to ensure that with the intensification of training or competitions, that the horse's health is maintained, that he tolerates his work and recovers after competitions and that he doesn't develop any clinically imperceptible problems.
How is an athletic evaluation performed?
An appointment is made at a time when a normal to intense work session may be scheduled. To be safe, horses should be in active work and sound at the time of the test. For racehorses or eventers, the evaluation takes place on a racecourse or quality track, which allows an assessment at high speed. For a sport horse, an arena is enough. Ideally, the horse should be examined ridden by his usual rider.
The horse's usual working program, competition schedule and medical history are reviewed and discussed.
The horse is initially examined at rest.
After a warm-up, the test consists of 3 to 5 steps of increasing intensity. A specific test has been designed for each discipline. The intensity of the test is adapted to the level of the horse's physical condition.
During the test, ECG, heart rate and speed are recorded. A small blood sample can also be taken at the end of each step to measure lactatemia. After recovery, a final blood sample is made.
The results are compared to those of horses of similar category. If the tests indicate a problem, additional examinations can be done.