Can Releasing Racehorses to Paddocks be Beneficial? Heart Rate Analysis – Preliminary Study

Iwona Janczarek 1 , Witold Kędzierski 2 , Anna Stachurska 3  and Izabela Wilk 1
  • 1 Department of Horse Breeding and Use, Faculty of Animal Biology and Breeding, Lublin, Poland
  • 2 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Akademicka 13, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
  • 3 of Horse Breeding and Use, Faculty of Animal Biology and Breeding, Lublin, Poland


The aim of the study was to assess the effect of allowing racehorses to use paddocks, on the heart rate (HR). HR was used as a measure of horses’ psychosomatic response to environment effect. The study involved 90 Purebred Arabian horses divided into three groups of equal numbers of stallions and mares. The control group (C) was trained at the racetrack. The other two groups were trained in an off-the-racetrack centre and therefore, they were regularly transported to the races. One of those groups (T) was maintained in the same manner as horses at the racetrack, without access to paddocks. Horses from the other group (TP) were additionally released into a paddock every day. Each horse was examined within five three-week measuring periods, during one training season. HR was registered at rest, during saddling, and while walking with a rider. A multivariate analysis of variance (ANOVA, GLM) was used to compare HR. The significance of differences between means was determined using Tukey’s test. HR registered from 2nd to 5th measuring periods during saddling and walking was generally lower in TP than in C. For example, in stallions during saddling, HR amounted to: 54.4±14.7 vs 65.3±12.1, 53.2±13.5 vs 64.4±13.1, 55.4±12.2 vs 65.0±11.0 and 53.4±14.0 vs 66.5±13.8 beats/min, respectively. In T stallions and mares, HR tended to increase when the transportation began which was particularly pronounced at rest. The study revealed that the possibility of turnout into paddocks reduced HR in racehorses, in comparison to horses trained at racetrack. Training for horse racing in an off-the-racetrack centre with the use of paddocks was assessed as beneficial, provided the horses were used to being transported.

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