Horses and the effects of flying

“Horses are the only species other than man transported around the world for competition purposes.”

JetLagHorse– say investigators Domingo Tortonese, Julie Townsend, Cathy Fuller, ‘Twink’ Allen and Roger Short in ‘Jetlag in the horse: Neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying the effects of transmeridian flying on equine performance.’

“Changes in the 24h light:dark cycle, such as those associated with trans-meridian air travel, disrupt endocrine systems and affect athletic performance.”

That report is published by the Horserace Betting Levy Board, London.

Two of the authors, Dr Domingo Tortonese, DVM, DrVetSci(LaPlata), PhD(WVirginia) (Centre for Comparative and Clinical Anatomy, University of Bristol, UK) and Professor Roger Valentine Short, AM ScD Camb. FRSEd FAA FRCVS FRCOG FRANZOG FRCPEd FRS (of The Dean’s Ganglion, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) also contributed to a later study, Biological rhythms, jetlag and performance in Thoroughbred racehorses (Equine Veterinary Journal, Volume 44, Issue 4, pages 377–378, July 2012) Oddly perhaps, the paper has no abstract or summary of any kind for non-subscribers, but Improbable can reveal that :

“Photoperiodic information is conveyed from the retina to a master clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, which coordinates the activity of local oscillators in peripheral organs [2,3]. The signal imparted by the 24 h light:dark cycle is decoded by transcriptional–translational feedback loops that drive the rhythmic expression of clock genes in the SCN and peripheral oscillators [4]. This constitutes the molecular basis of the clockwork.“

BONUS (audio) Dr. Tortonese talks about hoses and jetlag

“What we found was more or less the opposite of what we were expecting, we found that horses do feel a change in the light/dark cycle very acutely, but they also recover very quickly, and this resulted in an improvement in their performance rather than a decrease in their performance, which was exactly the opposite of what we thought was going to happen.”

 BONUS: Pegasus Airlines