Journal of animal science

A comparison of the physiological response to tölt and trot in the Icelandic horse.

PMID 26440166


This study compared the effect of ridden tölt and trot at 3 speeds on physiological responses in trained adult (15.3 ± 1.6 yr) Icelandic horses. The experiment had a crossover design with 8 horses, 2 treatments (incremental exercise test in tölt and trot), and 2 riders. Each horse performed 2 tests per day (1 gait with 2 riders, minimum 4.5 h between) on 2 separate days, with 1 d of rest in between. The exercise test consisted of three 642-m phases at 3.0 m/s (Speed), 4.0 m/s (Speed), and 5.0 m/s (Speed) and was performed outdoors on a 300-m oval gravel riding track in northern Iceland in May 2012. Heart rate (HR) was measured during warm-up, the exercise test, and after 5, 15, and 30 min of recovery. Blood samples were taken at rest, after warm-up, after each phase of the exercise test, and after 5, 15, and 30 min of recovery. Respiratory rate was counted for at least 15 s at rest, at the end of the exercise test, and at the end of the 30-min recovery, and rectal temperature was measured on these occasions. There were no differences in HR between tölt and trot at any time point ( > 0.05). At Speed, hematocrit and plasma lactate concentration were greater ( < 0.05) in tölt (40% ± 1%, 1.1 ± 0.06 mmol/L) than in trot (39% ± 1%; 0.9 ± 0.06 mmol/L). There was a prolonged recovery of hematocrit and respiratory rate, a slower decrease in rectal temperature, and a tendency of a prolonged recovery of plasma lactate concentration ( = 0.0675) after tölt. In conclusion, there were only minor differences in physiological responses to tölt and trot in this selected group of experienced adult Icelandic horses and the biological and practical significance of the slightly elevated physiological responses to tölt and the slower recovery remains to be determined.