The Penn State Equine Research Team (PSERT) is currently focusing on characterizing the athletic conditioning of everyday horses. Most horse owners expect some level of athletic performance from their horse, and most owners do some exercise training, but there are few techniques to truly quantify the condition of the individual animal. PSERT is using a Standardized Exercise Test (SET) to evaluate individual animals and to build a database that should allow for some comparisons to be made between horses. The SET simply allows for a characterization of how a horse's heart rate changes as the horse increases the speed at which it is traveling. The results of this work should be useful to horse owners that want to:
  • understand how the condition of their horse compares to different horse populations. For example, we might be able to say that your horse's condition places it in the 70th percentile of all horses tested.
  • judge how their conditioning program helped to improve their horse's condition. A SET could be completed before and then after several months of conditioning, with the expectation that there would be some improvement.
  • investigate how characteristics such as breed, gender, age, feeding management, and/or discipline influence athletic condition.
To accomplish this research, student members of PSERT will be visiting equine farms in Pennsylvania and working with horse owners to conduct SETs on individual horses. PSERT members are responsible for all aspects of the project. There are a myriad of opportunities for PSERT members to get involved with this project and we look forward to being able to share our results with the horse owners that help us to complete this research.