Quantifying the Impact of Mounted Load Carrying on Equids: A Review

Syed S. U. H. Bukhari, Alan G. McElligott, Rebecca S. V. Parkes
2021 Animals  
There are approximately 112 million working equids in developing countries, many of which are associated with brick kilns. Brick kilns and overloading are associated with welfare problems in working equids. Understanding equids' abilities and influencing factors are important for both effective performance and welfare. Traditionally, measurement of the amount of 'bone' was used, and more recently, gait symmetry has been identified as a potential marker for loading capacity. Assessment of stride
more » ... parameters and gait kinematics provides insights into adaptations to loading and may help determine cut-off loads. Physiological factors such as the ability to regain normal heart rates shortly after work is an important tool for equine fitness assessment and a more accurate measure of load-carrying capacity than absolute heart rate. Oxidative stress, plasma lactate, and serum creatine kinase activity are reliable biochemical indicators of loading ability. For monitoring stress, salivary cortisol is superior to serum cortisol level for assessment of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and is related to eye temperatures, but this has yet to be interpreted in terms of load-carrying ability in equids. Further research is needed to standardize the evidence-based load-carrying capacity of working horses and donkeys.
doi:10.3390/ani11051333 pmid:34067208 fatcat:qokeq4n5vzhcdff37ms32pppca