Canadian researchers are using a hand-held device used to test blood in ailing humans to determine the fitness level of horses. The device measures ammonia levels in blood, which could also help determine the athletic capacity of equines, says Dr. Renaud Léguillette, an equine internal medicine professor at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
Ammonia is indicative of anaerobic metabolism, which is how much energy is delivered to the muscles without the use of oxygen, meaning that the lungs cannot put enough oxygen in the bloodstream for muscle demand.
Higher ammonia levels mean a horse is using more anaerobic power and are not as fit as they might need to be to perform well. The device is used stall side; blood is placed on the strip and results are delivered in three or four minutes.
The accuracy of the device is being tested at the Calgary Stampede on chuckwagon horses competing in the Rangeland Derby races. Blood samples will be taken and tested both before and after the horse’s race.
Read more at HorseTalk.
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