Objective—To determine whether echocardiographic variables differed between successful (elite) and less successful (nonelite) Arabian endurance horses.
Animals—34 Arabian horses that competed in endurance racing.
Procedures—Horses were assigned to either an elite or nonelite group on the basis of results of a previous competition, and a standardized echocardiographic examination was performed on each horse within 1 to 4 weeks after that competition. Multivariable logistic regression with backward stepwise elimination was used to create a prediction model for the determination of horse status (elite or nonelite) as a function of the measured echocardiographic variables.
Results—The elite and nonelite groups consisted of 23 and 11 horses, respectively. One horse in the nonelite group had a frequent ventricular dysrhythmia that could have negatively affected its performance and rider's safety, whereas none of the horses in the elite group had remarkable cardiac abnormalities. The left ventricular internal diameter during systole and diastole and left ventricular mass and stroke volume were significantly greater for horses in the elite group, compared with those for horses in the nonelite group. The final logistic regression model correctly predicted the horse status for all of the horses in the elite group and 8 of 11 horses in the nonelite group.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that heart size was significantly associated with performance for Arabian endurance horses in a manner similar to findings for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses in active competition.