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Profiling the aerobic window of horses in response to training by means of a modified lactate minimum speed test : flatten the curve

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

There is a great need for objective external training load prescription and performance capacity evaluation in equestrian disciplines. Therefore, reliable standardised exercise tests (SETs) are needed. Classic SETs require maximum intensities with associated risks to deduce training loads from pre-described cut-off values. The lactate minimum speed (LMS) test could be a valuable alternative. Our aim was to compare new performance parameters of a modified LMS-test with those of an incremental SET, to assess the effect of training on LMS-test parameters and curve-shape, and to identify the optimal mathematical approach for LMS-curve parameters. Six untrained standardbred mares (3U+20134 years) performed a SET and LMS-test at the start and end of the 8-week harness training. The SET-protocol contains 5 increments (4 km/h; 3 min/step). The LMS-test started with a 3-min trot at 36U+201340 km/h [until blood lactate (BL) > 5 mmol/L] followed by 8 incremental steps (2 km/h; 3 min/step). The maximum lactate steady state estimation (MLSS) entailed >10 km run at the LMS and 110% LMS. The GPS, heartrate (Polar®), and blood lactate (BL) were monitored and plotted. Curve-parameters (R core team, 3.6.0) were (SET) VLa1.5/2/4 and (LMS-test) area under the curve (AUC>/<LMS), LMS and Aerobic Window (AW) via angular vs. threshold method. Statistics for comparison: a paired t-test was applied, except for LMS: paired Wilcoxon test; (p < 0.05). The Pearson correlation (r > 0.80), Bland-Altman method, and ordinary least products (OLP) regression analyses were determined for test-correlation and concordance. Training induced a significant increase in VLa1.5/2/4. The width of the AW increased significantly while the AUC</>LMS and LMS decreased post-training (flattening U-curve). The LMS BL steady-state is reached earlier and maintained longer after training. BLmax was significantly lower for LMS vs. SET. The 40° angular method is the optimal approach. The correlation between LMS and VMLSS was significantly better compared to the SET. The VLa4 is unreliable for equine aerobic capacity assessment. The LMS-test allows more reliable individual performance capacity assessment at lower speed and BL compared to SETs. The LMS-test protocol can be further adapted, especially post-training; however, inducing modest hyperlactatemia prior to the incremental LMS-stages and omitting inclusion of a per-test recovery contributes to its robustness. This LMS-test is a promising tool for the development of tailored training programmes based on the AW, respecting animal welfare.
ISSN: 1664-042X
Volume: 13
Number of pages: 1
Publication year:2022