OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
Fain 994 Volume 16, No. 2
COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE UNVEILS NEW HIGH SPEED TREADMILL
by Tom Johnston, OSU News Bureau
Ever have one of those days when you felt like you were working hard, but you were just getting absolutely nowhere? Then you probably know how the horses feel on OSU's new high-speed equine treadmill.
The piece of equipment is the crown jewel of the College of Veterinary Medi¬ cine's new Equine Sports Medicine Lab¬ oratory. The laboratory is phase II of a three-phase project to enhance support services available for veterinarians and owners of performance horses. Phase I was the construction of the John Oxiey Equine sports Arena, and Phase III was the establishment of a $500,000 endowed faculty chair in Equine Sports Medicine. The laboratory portion was funded from a combination of private gifts and HERO bond monies.
The laboratory is designed to test and analyze performance horses during exercise. "There are many respiratory conditions that horses can develop that only show up during exercise," said Dr. David Stephens, lab coordinator. "With this treadmill we can, for instance, place a video endoscope in the horse's nasal passages and actually observe the up¬ per respiratory track while the horse is working. If, because of fatigue or a nerve problem, the horse encounters difficulty breathing, then we can spot it," Stephens said. "Without the treadmill, we could only make an educated guess." He add¬ ed that, with high speed videography, the treadmill can also be used to analyze
an animal's gait to detect subtle lame¬ ness or musculoskeletal disorders.
Testing for most animals will be at a speed of between 20 to 30 miles per hour, Stephens said. Just like a test for a human subject, a horse's test is started slowly and the exercise load is gradually increased. With it's current transmission, the machine has a top speed of 33 miles per hour. It can also be elevated to a 10 degree grade.
Stephens added that sometimes you can run a horse through these tests and see that there is really no reason it should not be living up to the owner's expectations, and then it all boils down to "what's between the horse's ears, what's in its heart, and its given athletic ability or inability." The owner then has to make a decision on whether to continue training that animal or focus the expense of time and money on a new prospect. In view of the fact that Oklahoma horse owners
have over a billion dollars invested in facilities, equipment, land, and animals, equine health is of major importance not only to horse owners, but also to the state's economic picture.
"It's an economically driven indus¬ try," Stephens observed. "There are very few people who can afford to feed and raise horses and not have the horses bring in some kind of paycheck. What we try to do is to design and structure programs to help people get into the in¬ dustry and make it a cost-effective business."
A dedication ceremony for the Equine Sports Medicine Facilty is planned for Saturday, October 1, at 10:30 am in conjunction with the College of Veteri¬ nary Medicine Fall Conference and Homecoming.