The energy requirements of racehorses in training

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The aim of this study was to estimate the energy requirements of Thoroughbred racehorses in active training for flat racing. Twenty-two Thoroughbred racehorses in England were measured over periods from 6 to 15 wk, which included periods of active race training and temporarily reduced training. Energy intake was determined by measuring daily feed consumption. Energy output was measured using heart rate monitors during 730 training sessions, relating heart rate (HR) to oxygen consumption (VO2) and converting VO2 to energy. Field maintenance requirements were calculated by deducting the marginal energy cost of training from energy input. The mean field maintenance expenditure during periods of active race training was 0.1731 megajoules (MJ) of metabolizable energy (ME)/kg of bodyweight (BW)/d (SD = 0.0174, CI = 0.0073, n = 22 horses, 193 wk). This result is 11% to 66% greater than the official guidance found in the United States, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Heart rate monitoring revealed a mean energy expenditure for exercise of 0.0212 MJ ME/d (SD = 0.0049, CI = 0.0007, n = 22 horses) for racehorses in active race training, a result 70% to 82% below the official guidance. The total mean energy expenditure for racehorses in active race training was 0.1943 MJ ME/kg/d (SD = 0.0177, CI = 0.0078, n = 20 horses 193 wk), 4% to 22% less than the official guidance. Horses actively racing had a 12% higher maintenance requirement than those in training but not yet racing (P = 0.01). The 2- and 3-yr-old horses did not gain weight during active race training, but grew slowly during breaks in training. This study explores the factors affecting energy balance in racehorses, and provides updated findings for their maintenance and training requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)txaa196
JournalTranslational Animal Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


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