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Golland, L. C., Evans, D. L., McGowan, C. M., Hodgson, D. R., & Rose, R. J. (2003). The effects of overtraining on blood volumes in standardbred racehorses. Vet J, 165(3), 228–233.
Abstract: Red blood cell hypervolaemia has been used for diagnosis of overtraining in racehorses, and has been suggested as a mechanism of this cause of loss of racing performance. The effects of overload training (OLT) on the plasma, blood and red cell volumes were investigated in a prospective study in 12 Standardbred horses. Measurements of blood volumes were made after eight and 32 weeks of an exercise training study. Horses were randomly allocated to OLT and control groups (n=6) after 16 weeks of training. Training duration and intensity were increased more rapidly for the OLT group from week 16, until overtraining was diagnosed in week 32.There were no significant effects of OLT on plasma, blood or total red cell volumes between weeks eight and 32. These volumes significantly decreased with time. Maximal haematocrit after exercise was lower (P<0.05) in the OT group in week 32 (0.57+/-0.003% L/L) than in week eight (0.59+/-0.004 L/L). It was concluded that red cell hypervolaemia was not a mechanism for the decrease in capacity for exercise that occurs with overtraining.
Harewood, E. J., & McGowan, C. M. (2005). Behavioral and physiological responses to stabling in naive horses. J. Equine Vet. Sci., 25(4), 164–170.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the response of horses to confinement and isolation in a stable (indoor individual housing) for the first time using behavioral indices, heart rate, and salivary cortisol concentration. Six naive 2-year-old Australian Stock Horse fillies were examined at 4-hour intervals over 24 hours in an outdoor group paddock followed by 24 hours in indoor individual housing. Behavioral observations and scores and heart rates were recorded and saliva samples were taken at each interval. During stabling, all horses became agitated and demonstrated increased vocalization and movement. Behavioral scores were significantly higher in the indoor individual housing (P < .001). No significant difference in heart rates between the two environments was detected. Mean salivary cortisol did not increase significantly (2 ng/mL ± 1.4 ng/mL in outdoor group paddock vs 2.5 mL ± 1.2 ng/mL in indoor individual housing). No diurnal rhythm in salivary cortisol was evident in either the outdoor group paddock or indoor individual housing. The results of this study highlight that a combination of behavioral and physiological measures allow better understanding of stress, where one measurement may be misleading. First time stabling of horses elicited marked behavioral responses indicative of stress that were not reflected in increased heart rates or salivary cortisol concentrations. The lack of a diurnal cortisol rhythm and the comparatively high basal cortisol concentrations found in the outdoor group paddock environment may imply that the fillies were already stressed; therefore, stabling did not cause further aberrations detectable by salivary cortisol analysis.