While many equine riders and owners feel that whole-body vibration therapy (WBV) can improve a horse's athletic performance, minimal research has been done to determine its benefits, reports The Horse.
Seneca Sugg, a graduate student at Middle Tennessee State University, created a study using 12 healthy and sound horses to determine if WBV affected a horse's gait, stride length, heart rate or cortisol level. Six of the hoses received the WBV treatment and six were controls. The horses that received the treatment spent 45 minutes on an Equivibe vibrating platform five days a week for 28 days.
Sugg used a heart rate monitor and saliva swabs to collect data on days 0, 1, 14 and 28. She used a Lameness Locator to measure gait normality and stride length as the horses were jogged down a 100-foot track.
She determined that:
- The WBV group had lower heart rates than the control group
- The WBV group's heart rate and cortisol levels dropped immediately after treatment
- The WBV group had lower cortisol levels on Day 28 than when they began the study
- Stride lengths in both groups shortened over the study period (Sugg suggests that this was a result of being stalled)
Sugg concluded that the whole-body vibration had a relaxing effect on horses, shown by their lower cortisol levels and heart rates. She called for additional research to determine how whole-body vibration affects gait abnormalities in lame horses.
Read more at The Horse.
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