Lung Function and Performance

The horse’s lungs will inhale and exhale up to 2000 litres of air in a 5 furlong race.  Around 70% of the energy production will be anaerobic, whereas in a horse running over a longer distance, up to 90% will be anaerobic. 

The process of anaerobic respiration is very fast, but inefficient, and it can be used for only a short period of time due to the build up of lactic acid and an oxygen debt in the muscles. Aerobic metabolism is not as rapid, but it is very efficient at generating the energy needed to run.

Much research has been done into the response of the lungs to training. In human athletes the musculoskeletal system usually limits performance but respiratory functionality is the primary limiting factor in the horse. With maximal exercise and exertion, pulmonary resistance increases and the work of breathing rises exponentially and airflow eventually plateaus, the horse cannot physically get anymore air in or out. Horses breathe at comparatively high frequencies when galloping due to the tight 1:1 coupling of strides to breathing.

We want to support the best alveolar health and gaseous exchange with every stride and breathing cycle. 

Whilst we cannot increase the lung capacity through training, we can support lung function.

Omega-3 fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and derivatives, play a key role in the resolution of inflammation. Research in humans has shown that a higher intake has been linked to decreased severity of symptoms and in fact morbidity in several respiratory diseases, and also to combat bacterial lung infections. Greater research is needed into these effects in the horse, but supplementing the diet with long chain Omega-3 has absolutely no disadvantages! 

Omega-3 has been proven to improve cell wall flexibility and elasticity which can help to reduce pressure in the fine capillaries of the lungs, reducing the chance of exercise-induced haemorrhage (bleeding). Balanced Omega 3’s can be added to any diet through supplementation with 60ml of Keyflow Key 3 Oil per day. Key 3 Oil is a palatable and straight forward, economical solution. You can read more about Key 3 Oil here.

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