Research: Heart Size in Elite and Non-Elite Arabian Endurance Horses

In the October 2014 issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research, researchers published information on the topic “Comparison of echocardiographic measurements in elite and non-elite Arabian endurance horses.” This research was supported by the American Endurance Ride Conference. 

Edited Abstract

In this study, 34 Arabian horses were divided into either an elite (23) or non-elite (11) group based on a previous event. A standardized echocardiographic examination was performed on each horse within one to four weeks after that competition.

“One horse in the non-elite 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.” noted the researchers.

“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 non-elite group,” the abstract reported. “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 non-elite group.

“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.”


Meg M. Sleeper, VMD, Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Mary M. Durando, DVM, PhD, and Eric K. Birks, DVM, PhD, Equine Sports Medicine Consultants, 523 Chesterville Rd, Landenberg, Pennsylvania; Todd C. Holbrook, DVM, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University; Mark E. Payton, PhD, Department of Statistics, College of Arts and Sciences, Oklahoma State University.

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