- Trainer: Kurt Kortisol
- Career earnings: $239,570
- Running Style: The Deep Closer
- Brief Interesting History: With a home base in Sweden, Wandering Soul holds true to his name traveling the globe to the world’s most prestigious races. When questioned how this horse handles the constant transportation, trainer Kurt Kortisol exclaims he could not be more pleased with the performance of his colt. He’s confident the colt’s success results from his non-traditional warm-up routine. Betters will not find this colt parading around the paddocks, but rather taking a cruise in the trailer around the barns prior to the start gates. No need to get the legs moving when the transportation process jump-starts the heart and floods the body with a reservoir of performance-enhancing plasma glucose. This explains the famed Deep Closer running style Wandering Soul uses to surprise his competitors. When all other horses are dwindling to fatigue, one would think this horse had been tubed with Gatorade mid-race when really, his trailer ride warm-up stimulated enough cortisol to keep the glucose gliding him out from behind and past the pack to cross the finish line first. He’s sure to make this race one to remember!
Interpretive Summary: Road transport and diet affect metabolic response to exercise in horses
by Anne Zinn
A Swedish research team has investigated the effects of transport and diet on metabolic response during a subsequent race-like test in Standardbred horses in training. The study, published in the November 2017 issue of Journal of Animal Science, found that both transport and diet affect the metabolic response during exercise in horses and should be considered when discussing competition horses.
Competition horses are typically transported before events, but there is little research regarding the effect of transportation on the subsequent metabolic response to exercise, even though it has been proven that heart rate, plasma glucose, and cortisol concentrations increase during transportation. Recent studies have also shown that forage-only diets alter the metabolic responses in horses in training at rest and after exercise compared with the metabolic response to high-concentrate diets commonly fed to competition horses. The primary goal of this study was to investigate the effect of road transport on Standardbred horses in training fed a forage-only diet or a 50-50 forage:oats diet on metabolic responses during a subsequent race-like test.
The study consisted of 6 adult (average age of 8 yr and average BW at the beginning of trail was 509 kg)) Standardbred mares in training that were divided into 2 groups. The horses were trained at Wången National Center for Education (Alsen, Sweden) and consisted of slow exercise 1-3 times per week and intensive exercise 1-2 times per week. Two diets were fed in periods of 29 days in a crossover design. The 2 diets consisted of 1 forage-only diet (FONLY) and 1 diet with 50% of DM intake from forage and 50% from oats (FOATS). At day 21, the horses were subjected to transport for 100 km before and after they performed an endurance test (TT) and at day 26, the horses performed a control test (CT) where they were kept in their stall before and after the exercise test. Blood samples were collected throughout the study, and heart rate and water intake were recorded. One horse was removed during the study due to a major rhabdomyolysis episode.
Results showed that heart rate and plasma control and NEFA concentrations were greater for the transportation test than for the control test, but were affected by the diet. Additionally, plasma acetate concentration was lower during the transportation test than during the control test and greater for the FONLY diet than for the FOATS diet. The transportation test and the control test did not have any overall effects on total plasma protein concentration or water intake, but TPP was lower with the FONLY diet and water intake was greater with the FONLY diet. Neither transport not diet had any overall effects on body weight, plasma lactate, or plasma urea concentration. Researchers concluded that the aerobic energy supply was most likely elevated by transportation and by the FONLY diet; the FONLY diet also decreased exercise-induced effects on extracellular fluid regulation.
In conclusion, the present study revealed that both transport and diet affect the metabolic response during exercise in horses. These results highlight the importance of experimental design in nutritional studies and how competition animals can be affected by environmental factors. When examining how a diet can affect exercise response in competition horses, transport should be included in the experimental design.