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Physiological responses and behavioral characterization of horses submitted to vibratory platform training


Whole-body vibration (WBV) is a device capable of generating oscillations, used as a form of passive exercise. Several benefits of using vibrating platforms have been described, such as increased muscle strength, improved physical performance, improved balance, and functional mobility. WBV has been studied and used in many applications in humans, as part of the physiotherapeutic and non-pharmacological protocol or as an alternative or supplementary method to exercise. However, there are only a few studies in animals, including the equine species. Concurrently, assessments of the athlete's horse's well-being can be carried out using facial expressions and other behaviours. The present study will aim to investigate the effects of the WBV as an adjunct in equine training. For this purpose, nine male and female mixed-breed horses will be used, with an average age of 12 years and an average weight of 450 kg. Three experimental groups will be performed: control group (CG), which will perform exercises only on the automatic walker; whole-body vibration group (WBV), which will undergo heating, training and cooling down in the WBV devicce; and trained group (TG), which will undergo training on the automatic walker associated with sessions of heating and cooling down in the WBV. The experiment will be carried out in the cross-over scheme, with a 4 weeks duration training and an interval of, at least, 6 weeks. Before and after the end of the training period the animals will be submitted to the incremental exercise test (IET) in a treadmill to assess physiological changes and physical aptitude. The heart rate will be monitored during the IETs. Blood samples will be taken to determine lactate and glucose before the start of the experiment, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days after the start of each training session and during the IETs. Blood samples were also be taken to determine creatine kinase concentrations before, 7, 14, 21 and 28 days after the start of each training session and 6 and 24 hours after the end of each IET. Furthermore, biopsies of the middle gluteal muscle will be performed before, immediately and six h after each TEI, to assess muscle glycogen concentration, muscle lactate concentration, monocarboxylate transporters, and muscle typing by immunohistochemical method. Thermographic evaluations will also be performed before the start of the experiment, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days after the start of each workout and during the IETs. Facial expressions and other behavioral variables will be evaluated before, during, and after the WBV session and the IETs. Statistical analysis will be performed using the one-way ANOVA test (One-Way), which will be applied to compare variables between more than two groups. For intra-group comparison, the paired "Student" t-test will be used. Behavioral variables will be assessed using a methodology composed of sequential strategies, which combines univariate and multivariate analyses. Values of p <0.05 will be considered significant. (AU)

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