Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Phillip Gunter, Stephen King, Paige Smith

Degree Program

Department of Agriculture

Degree Type

Master of Science


Equine exercise may influence a horse’s metabolic and physiological functions. Studies can help to prove this linkage, and to better understand the nutritional requirements of the horse. The parameters that are being evaluated are plasma-fructosamine concentrations, insulin levels, body weight (lbs.), and body condition score (BCS) as a measurement of obesity. Eight horses used in this study were split into two groups; Worked horses were exercised three times a week while the unworked horses were not exercised. All eight horses were fed an ad libitum diet of tall fescue grass and hay for 127 days.

Forage samples were collected to analyze the total dry matter nutrient values as the control variable between the two groups. Blood samples were collected every two weeks to determine plasma-fructosamine concentrations and insulin levels, and horses were weighed on a standing scale and scored on their BCS at the same time as blood draws. The t-test hypothesis results using the means of each parameter show that exercise does significantly affect insulin levels (P<0.0001) and BCS (P<0.0001) but does not significantly affect plasma-fructosamine levels (P=0.4773) and body weight (P=0.7318). Even with two parameters not being significant, the study signifies that there is an ability to be more successful in horse nutrition management by including exercise into a horse’s weekly schedule.


Agriculture | Agronomy and Crop Sciences | Animal Sciences | Life Sciences | Plant Sciences