Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours


Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

First Advisor

Dr Angus Stewart

Second Advisor

Dr Peter Roberts


This honours project examined the biochemical and haematological changes induced by exercise in the showjumping horse to determine whether a relationship exists between these values and performance. To complete this study 7 geldings and 1 stallion who were considered competition fit by their trainers were subjected to 2 forms of exercise. The first phase of this study involved an incremental exercise test performed at the Byford City Council horse training facility. The horses were cantered/galloped around a 1300m all weather training track at velocities of 6, 8, 10, and 12 m/sec for a duration of 2 minutes for each workload. Blood samples were collected from the jugular vein at rest, 0, 3 and 5 minutes post exercise. A further sample was collected at 24 hours post for the determination of peak creatine kinase levels. Five of the 8 horses used in this study completed this test. In the second phase of this study the horses a) completed a competition standard showjumping course with no jumping efforts and then b) the horses completed the same course with the jumps placed in position. At the completion of each stage, blood was collected at 1, 3, and 5 minutes post. A further sample was also collected at 24 hours for analysis of peak CK levels. It was found that incremental exercise caused significant increases in heart rate, plasma lactate, RBC, HCT, Hb, and WBC values. Completion of the jump course produced increases in HR, plasma lactate, RBC, HCT, Hb, and MCH. There were no relationships observed between showjumping performance and the physiological changes induced by the jump test. With respect to the incremental exercise test, trends were observed between rates of lactate production and showjumping performance. A trend was also found between RBC values and showjumping performance, with the higher graded horses producing lower RBC values than the other horses. The plasma lactate values obtained from this study were lower than those previously reported in the thoroughbred racehorse following comparable exercise. This suggests that the differences in training programs between these groups of horses cause a change in the rate of lactate production for individual horses Following jumping, the lactate values obtained during the present study were significantly lower than values reported from European horses competing at similar levels. This may suggest some variation in skeletal muscle fibre types among different breeds of horses.