Adelaide 3 Day Event is here!
The Mitsubishi Motors Australian (MMA) International 3 Day Event will see some of the worlds best riders go head to head in what can be described as the ‘triathlon’ of the equestrian world. The MMA international 3 Day Event or Aus3DE is comprised of 3 phases including dressage, cross country and showjumping with each ‘phase’ completed over the course of 3 days. The Aus3De is the only CCI four star event run within Australia, with only 6 other four star events held world wide per calendar year. Adelaide has hosted the Aus3DE for the past 12 years with the event held annually each November with over $150 000 dollars on offer for the winner. As one of the premier FEI mainstay 3 day events, the Aus3De is run alongside other influential equestrian events including, the Rolex Kentucky 3 Day Event, Badminton Horse Trials, Luhmuhlen in Germany, Burghley Horse Trials and Pau in France.
With temperatures set to reach 31 degrees during the competition, managing horse’s temperatures throughout each day particularly after the cross country phase is paramount to ensure heat stress is avoided. So how does heat stress occur in the horse? Well, it is no different to you or I whereby high ambient temperatures, direct and indirect solar radiation, and humidity create environmental stressors that directly impact our equine counterparts. Despite the fact that horses have well developed mechanisms of thermoregulation in comparison to dogs, the issue remains that horses do not maintain strict homeothermy when placed under heat stress. There is no denying that hyperthermia or a high internal temperature is deleterious to any form of performance or productivity, regardless of the degree of fitness, breed, age or adaptation. Firstly, when dealing with horses the best and most easily recognizable effect of raised body temperature is the depression of the metabolic rate which outwardly manifests as a reduced appetite. Other commonly observed signs of heat stress may include profuse sweating, or conversely anhidrosis/no sweating, rapid heart rate (>50 beats /min), rapid breathing rate which may resemble panting (>20 breaths / min) and an unsually high rectal temperature (>38 degrees). Furthermore, hormonal (cortisol, thyroid gland activity), and behavioral thermoregulation are also impacted upon which highlights significant animal welfare issues.
So why is heat exhaustion detrimental to our equine counterparts, aside from the aforementioned physiological characteristics? Picture how you feel when riding in the heat of the day as the sweat drips from under your helmet and the reins become lathered and slippery; your horse feels the heat just as much as you do! Due to exercise creating significant increases in residual heat from the work the muscular system must do to achieve athletic performance a significant rise in body temperature ensues. Futhermore, muscles are not able to directly transform energy created by movement with 100% efficiency; as such, residual energy is dissipated or lost as heat. Heat produced by working muscles is directly proportional to how much effort or work the muscle itself is doing. To put it into perspective, an endurance horse is hypothesised to produce enough heat energy to boil approximately 770 litres of water over the course of a 160km race!
So what can you do to minimise the effects of heat to your horse whilst competing or even just hacking on a summers day?
- Implementation of the equi-ice cooling system is by far the most superior method of cooling your horse post activity, via applying cryotherapy to your horses back and jugular you can decrease not only core body temperature but also reduce heart rate safely and effectively.
- Cold hosing can also be of assistance if you don’t have access to ice to aid with increasing the effect of the capillaries close to the skin, thus, improving the evaporation of heat from the horse.
- Encourage horses to drink cool water (small amounts frequently). Horses working in hot/humid conditions should drink approximately 50-70Litres of water per day.
- Supplement electrolytes daily where possible.
- Ensure adequate cool down periods after exercise.
- Ensure that the horse has plenty of ventilation and access to a cool breeze as convection helps cool horses quicker.
Looking forward to the thrills of the cross country and remember to grab your Equi-Ice to ensure maximum performance of your horse!
By Hallie Butcher