To determine whether a clinical examination was adequate to assess the fitness of horses in an endurance ride, and to characterise the relationship between a clinical assessment of the horse's fitness and its blood biochemistry, 23 horses were monitored before, during and after an 87 to 100 km endurance ride. Blood samples were taken before the ride, at three checkpoints on the ride, immediately after the ride and one day later for the determination of packed cell volume, total protein, lactate, glucose, non-esterified fatty acids, creatine phosphokinase, aspartate aminotransferase and plasma electrolytes. Heart rate measurements appeared to be a reliable indicator of the metabolic status of endurance horses suggesting that veterinary examinations according to the official Federation Equestre Internationale rules are adequate to protect the health and welfare of horses competing in endurance races.
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