Friday, October 7, 2011

Success is sweet!

Our sixteen horses ran very well this week on the treadmill and we are excited to be getting this exercise physiology project underway. And now that all of our preliminary treadmill data are taken, we review our horses' basic physical fitness and set their exercise regimens that will begin on our Equi-ciser in two weeks. Next week, they start acclimation to their specific dietary treatments and from there we have about 14 more weeks of Equi-ciser exercise, ultrasounding, weighing, body condition scoring, blood work, treadmill testing, and more as we determine how these horses are training and how diet affects fitness level and increases in athletic ability. Above is a picture of one of the horses cooling down after a bout on the treadmill. After a warm shower in the wash stall, the horses would steam in the sun getting hand-walked during the beautiful fall mornings we have been having in St Louis. Doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Running for the roses at the Purina Research Farm this week!

One of our favorite things to do at the research farm is conduct exercise physiology studies. We have a phenomenal set up with a high speed treadmill and Equi-ciser that we use regularly for experiments, training, weight maintenance and other research related matters. This week we have 16 horses running on the treadmill as part of a larger study that will take place until the end of December. The horses are all performing individual Graded Exercise Tests that involve running for a short time on the treadmill to determine fitness level. As the horses exercise, we measure heart rate, the volume of oxygen consumed, blood levels of different metabolites and more. It is very exciting to be taking all these measurements while a horse is running at almost 30 mph right next to you! In the pictures, you will see horse #510 (aka Chub) who is a seasoned treadmill horse for us. He is being led onto the treadmill and then getting fitted with a mask to measure his O2 and CO2 rates. I am also very proud of a young horse that made his treadmill debut today named Hank. We have a new set of young horses we have been training on the treadmill, and as you can imagine, this takes a lot of time, careful attention to detail, and patience. Hank entered the lab wide-eyed on his big day, but put in a textbook test. And all of this would not be possible without our fantastic crew of researchers that have prepared the horses, written the protocol, labeled all the blood tubes, processed all the samples, etc. It continues to be an exciting time to work for Purina and conduct research to develop products to help horses. We ran 4 horses today and have 12 more to go this week!