Turkish Journal of Veterinary & Animal Sciences




Horses that perform constant physical activity related to sport or work are subject to musculoskeletal disorders. Thus, the objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of a functional training program to promote physical conditions (epaxial musculature biometry and linear kinematics) and behavior traits in patrol horses. Sixteen crossbred horses were randomly distributed in two experimental treatments: not submitted (control group) and submitted (test group) to a functional exercise program. The training program exercises were performed three times per week for 90 days and consisted of dynamic mobilization techniques, reflexive mobilization, dynamic imbalance, and passive stretching. The studied variables were Longissimus dorsi (LD) muscle thickness (cm), Musculus multifidus (MM) cross-sectional area (cm²), stride length to step (SLs) and trot (SLt), footprint distances to step (FDs) and trot (FDt) and behavioral actions occurrence as alert, frightened, curious, distracted, nervous, drowsiness and stubborn. Physical evaluations on muscles were taken one day before the beginning of the functional exercise applications and after 90 days, and behavioral occurrence was recorded during each training session. LD muscle thickness did not differ (p > 0.05) between evaluation times; however, MM cross-sectional area differed (p < 0.05) between treatments. SLs, SLt, FDs, and FDt were higher (p < 0.05) in animals submitted to functional exercises; also, these animals showed lower drowsiness and stubbornness (p < 0.05) when compared to animals in the control group. Performing functional training causes Musculus multifidus hypertrophy, which sustains the spine, improves step and trot stride amplitude, and promotes positive changes in patrolling horses’ behavior.


Muscular biometry, kinematics, equine ethology, functional training

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