Do you like playing computer games? Here’s one where you get to be an equine scientist working on an exercise physiology research study.
You’ll be responsible for preparing a horse, running the treadmill, then conducting the follow up work in the laboratory. The game is called Exercising HorsePower and it was created by the Rutgers Equine Science Center.
Before playing the game, take the ‘Treadmill Lab Virtual Tour.’ This is where you will learn about properly preparing a horse for the experiment, how to operate a treadmill, and how to do the follow up lab work.
Exercising HorsePower has distinct levels of game play with each level getting more challenging. Players select one of three horses to complete the game. Each horse has unique abilities depending on age and prior condition, which will influence its performance on the treadmill and results in the laboratory.
Once your horse is chosen it is time to prepare your horse by putting on a halter, boots, heart monitor, and other equipment. Read through the Task List before you click the ‘START CLOCK’ button.
After preparing your horse with the equipment needed, it is time for the treadmill. Here, you will run your horse on the treadmill at various speeds while collecting blood samples to process in the laboratory.
Once in the lab, players select which activity they want to measure: total protein or packed cell volume.
Total protein is used to help determine hydration status, among other things, in horses. Packed cell volume is used to indicate an increase in red blood cells needed to meet higher oxygen demands during exercise.
In order to complete each activity, players use certain lab instruments and equipment including a centrifuge, refractometer, capillary tubes, pipettes, and a hematocrit card reader.
How will your findings differ between Lord Nelson, an unfit Quarterhorse gelding over 40-years-old, and Snowdrift, a young, fit Standardbred mare? Then there is Frankie, another Standardbred mare between 11 and 20-years-old? How will she compare? You will have to perform the tests and find out!