Date of Graduation

Fall 2013


Master of Natural and Applied Science in Agriculture


College of Agriculture

Committee Chair

Gary Webb


This study was designed to study the effects of ergot alkaloid ingestion on post exercise recovery of eleven Quarter Horses subjected to a standard exercise test (SET). SET and recovery periods were conducted inside an indoor arena. Horses were paired by body weight, age, and familial relationship. To mimic ingestion of endophyte infected fescue forage, horses on TRT were fed fescue seed cleanings from fields infected with Claviceps purpurea fungus. To encourage consumption seed cleanings were mixed pelleted feed with molasses and fed on an individual basis. Variables measured during the SET and recovery included heart rate (HR), respiration rate (RR.), rectal temperature (RT), skin temperature at the poll (PT), inside gaskin, and outside forearm, whole blood lactate (LA), estimated sweat production, pack cell volume (PCV) as well as arena ambient temperature, dew point, and wet bulb globe temperature. Statistical analysis was done with the SAS GLM procedure. Throughout the study, speed during the SET did not differ between horse pairs or period. When horses were on TRT, PT was higher at rest and 10 min of recovery (P < 0.05). Horses on TRT had lower HR at 10 min of recovery and at 11, 14, 17, 21, 27 min during the SET when horses were performing at slower speeds (P < 0.05). There was no treatment effect on LA, PCV, RR, RT, and estimated sweat production. These results indicate that the consumption of ergot alkaloids does not have a detrimental effect on the horse's ability to recover when exercised under hot, humid conditions.


horse, fescue, Claviceps purpurea, ergotamine, exercise physiology

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© Claire Marie Dohmen

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