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EVJ helps equine vets tackle the heat of the Tokyo Olympics

THE COVID-19-delayed Tokyo Olympics will take place in the heat and humidity of the Japanese Summer this year, in temperatures likely to reach more than 41°C (105°F). To help involved vets keep equine athletes safe in such heat, the Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) is giving free to read access to a Special Collection of previously published articles covering the health and welfare of horses competing in hot and humid conditions.

The Special Collection Preparing for Tokyo Olympics contains 11 highly relevant papers, together with a comprehensive editorial forward from Christopher Elliott.

“This is not the first time that extreme heat and humidity has challenged the viability of Equestrian events at the Olympic Games,” said Christopher Elliott. “It is vital that we learn from the past to ensure the welfare of equine athletes in the future.”

The Special Collection highlights the ground-breaking research, which followed the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

“This work revolutionised our understanding of managing equine athletes in hot and humid conditions,” said Christopher. “It optimised identification and management of heat stress and allowed practical solutions to cooling methods to be established, enabling the successful running of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.”

In the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, another concerted effort by veterinary researchers further advanced understanding and it is on the back of this work that recent literature of equine heat stress and optimisation of cooling methods has been established.

The special collection explores:

– Physiological, metabolic and biochemical responses of horses competing in the speed and endurance phase of a CCI**** three-day event

– Physiological responses to the endurance test of a three-day event during hot and cool weather

– Physiological responses of horses competing at a modified 1 Star three-day event

– Adaptations to daily exercise in hot and humid ambient conditions in trained Thoroughbred horses

– Sweating rate and sweat composition during exercise and recovery in ambient heat and humidity

– Physiological responses of horses to a treadmill simulated speed and endurance test in high heat and humidity, before and after humid heat acclimation

– Comparison between two post-exercise cooling methods

– Contributions of equine exercise physiology research to the success of the 1996 Equestrian Olympic Games: a review

– An index of the environmental thermal load imposed on exercising horses and riders by hot weather conditions

– Use of the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) Index to quantify environmental heat loads during three-day event competitions

– Risk factors for exertional heat illness in Thoroughbred racehorses in flat races in Japan (2005-2016)

Professor Celia Marr, Editor of the EVJ said: “Prevention is always better than cure: this special collection provides much excellent research and knowledge gained from previous events. We must ensure that we use it to best effect to keep the equine athletes competing in extreme climates in Tokyo this summer safe, cool, healthy and performing at their best.”

The Special Collection is ‘Free to Read’, which will enable readers without institutional access to read the article, but downloading will still be behind a paywall. It can be viewed and downloaded from

Bree Rutledge

If you would like to find out more about Horse Week, Bree Rutledge can be contacted by email: or or by telephone: +44 (0) 28 9033 4493.




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