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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mel's Guide to Studying

1.  "Quit" mail program (just shutting the window doesn't count)
2.  Do NOT go to blogger "just to write a short post"
3.  Put the puppy in the kennel.  Not the x-pen that she can clear with a single bound.  From a sit. 
4.  Do NOT get distracted by all the blog post ideas that have been brewing in Growly Notes (unfortunately the same program that all the school notes are in).
5. Do not go into iCalendar on the pretext of "seeing the topics for tomorrow", when you are really planning on when you can next take your horse on a ride and your dog to the dog park. 

OK - so here's the deal.  You pretend that I'm studying and don't tell my boyfriend across the room that all this typing isnt' school related, and I will pretend that you aren't sitting there reading this when you have a ton of MUCH better things to do with your time.  Like housework.  And laundry.  And mowing the yard (or is it only Californians that still mow this time of the year - what are the rest of you doing?  Shoveling snow?  hehehehehe).

I looking into the possibility of doing a fully-funded research project this summer.  Although I have a number of projects lined up, I've decided that if I can, I REALLY want to do an endurance-related research topic. 

Because you know, endurance fits in PERFECTLY with my food animal/public health/population health stream.......

But it will be fun.  and I'm in school to have fun.  And so you'all have to call me Dr. Mel.  (you are already practicing right?)

So here's my question - if you had an entire summer (with funding!) to research one endurance question - what would it be? 

I can think of a number of interesting questions - 

A weight and tack analysis of many many rides in a region - currently the most research/survey data comes from Tevis - which is not a typical endurance ride.  What about a person doing surveys of 20 rides in an area collecting data and looking for correlations and trends?

What is the optimum taper for a horse going into a 100?  I think we have it down for marathoners (human) but it's a lot of guess work for endurance still. 

What is the best predictor of 100 miler success? 

Optimum electrolyte protocols?  Actual effect of electrolyte supplementation in the performance horse? 

locomotion studies of successful endurance horses versus non endurance horses.  Dogs in Motion really opened my eyes to science of locomotion and I would LOVE to see something similar done in the horse world - perhaps between disciplines instead of breeds, as there isn't as many differences in horse breeds as compared to dog breeds. 

Is there really a correlation between a prospects' resting HR and their endurance performance capacity? 

What factors optimize getting a horse back into competition after a pull?  Does seeing your vet and getting diagnostics such as ultrasounds and radiographs done matter? 

What is the optimum rider position for horse locomotion efficiency over long distances? 

What are the charactertistics of a horse that is more likely to have back pain/problems with saddle fitting?  (ie - scientifically define the "hard to fit back" with defined measurements) What are modern saddles not addressing for the hard to fit horse? 

What are the relative efficiencies of different gaits on different terrains and how does this change at different temperatures? 

Anyone got any others?  I have a ton more - but I REALLY should get back to my "bone response to trauma" and figure out what a "physeal salter fracture" is before tomorrow....


  1. Please please PLEASE do some research about electrolytes. Something quantitative and prescriptive, so that we won't be GUESSING all the time? PLEASE?

    Also, Dr Mel, I've got a research question for you! I saw an excerpted lecture in an ancient endurance video that showed the rate at which horses adapt to distance work: the changes in cardio-vascular (relatively quick) compared to the changes in ligament/tendons (slower) compared to the changes in bone (extremely slow). I don't remember the time frames for these changes, and I'm sure the research is ancient anyhow. It might have been Dr. Mackey-Smith? In the 1980's?

    Can you see if anything more recent has been produced? And what the actual results are?

    WV: horshif
    the rate at which any conversation can be skewed to be about equines.

  2. What's funny is that when I wrote this post, I already had a preliminary research proposal from an endurance vet that is on electrolyte protocols!!!!!! and it will be a study that has CONTROLS - which have been lacking in many of the elyte studies. I'm excited. Even if I don't get full funding, I'm considering doing it anyways :).

    I'll look into your question - we are actually covering bone right now, and so I have a good handle on the bone time frame/adaption process - I was actually planning a little "lecture" here on the blog for it - so maybe I'll do that and include time frames, and then do some research into the other factors to present a whole picture over winter break.

  3. I agree that the locomotion stuff sounds like a ton of fun. Is there a lot out there on it? Could you break some new ground with it? Sounds like a ton of fun! Best of luck.

  4. Dear Dr Mel (see, practising ;) hehe)

    I would be interested in:
    1. Electrolytes: Comparison between administering competition electrolyte doses only and administering both competition & maintenance electrolyte doses.
    2. Locomotion study: Conformation variation and the variation it produces in locomotion. For example, height of knee during locomotion vs length of stride (the difference between flashy movement and ground-covering movement, or combination/lack of both). Look at a horse standing still and predict how it will move… even if just predicting it’s forelimb movement, including how high it will pick it’s shoulder/knee up and how far it will reach out naturally… or this already known and I’m slow? Would be easier to compare different breeds (say QH and Arabian), but would also be interesting within a breed – say Arabian with showy movement and Arabian with economical movement. I’m intrigued by the different ways horses reach out and place their forelimbs on the ground, the timing of when they pull their lowerlimb forward to meet the ground, etc (if you get me… maybe I’m a little weird…)

    Ummm… if you don’t research either of these things cos they are already known, it would cool if you could post about them sometime…

    Thanks! ;)

  5. I have a 3 week break coming up and would love to do some literature review/educational pieces. Thanks for the ideas - I'll see what's out there on this subject.


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