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Monitoring Horse Health in Hot WeatherBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 12, 2017

Body temperature continues to serve as an important sentinel for health and welfare in horses competing in warm environments. During competition, a horse’s body temperature is usually only measured intermittently and only while at rest, frequently a few minutes after cessation of exercise. Experts attest, however, that knowing the horse’s body temperature during exercise would provide much more valuable data that could ultimately improve the performance and welfare of equine athletes.

According to a recent study*, additional benefits of real-time body temperature measurements in exercising horses include “determining and monitoring temperature patterns and maximum temperature limits for individual exercising horses, allowing early intervention during competition, and evaluating temperature patterns and effectiveness of post-exercise cooling.”

Rectal thermometers remain the go-to tool for measuring body temperature, but alternates exist, including skin, eye, and even intrauterine devices. Each of these has its flaws, prompting the research team to explore the use of a nondigestible temperature-sensitive pill that passes through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This device provides a means of noninvasively and continuously monitoring body temperature in real-time via Bluetooth technology.

In their preliminary study involving in vitro (laboratory) comparisons and live measurements in eight exercising horses, the study authors concluded that “the telemetric GI pill was a reliable and practical method for real-time monitoring of GI temperature in horses.”

“During exercise, horses mainly regulate their body temperature by losing heat through the respiratory tract and skin. They can also lose remarkable amounts of electrolytes, such as sodium and chloride,” reminded Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

She added, “In addition to temperature regulation, replenishing valuable electrolytes is also an essential component of maximizing equine health and welfare in athletic horses.”

Electrolyte supplements, including Restore SRRestore Paste (Restore and Restore Paste in Australia), and Race Recovery, are research-proven products ideal for performance horses. Other KER-formulated electrolytes designed for endurance horses are available in Australia.

Not exactly sure what the best product is for your horse or how to use it? Contact a KER nutrition advisor today for a nutritional consultation.

*Verdegaal, E.J.M.M., C. Delesalle, C.G.B. Caraguel, et al. 2017. Evaluation of a telemetric gastrointestinal pill for continuous monitoring of gastrointestinal temperature in horses at rest and during exercise. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 78(7):778-784.