Pollution and Performance

New research suggests that exposure to potentially toxic minerals has a negative effect on equine performance. Researchers at the All-Russian Research Institute of Horse Breeding in Ryazan set out to determine whether a correlation exists between a trotting horse’s racing speeds and the amount of iodine Chromium, Cobalt, Cadmium, lithium, lead or other toxic minerals in his body associated with industrial pollution of the air, water sand/soil, minerals can be ingested or absorbed by animals. Hair samples are a reliable indicator of the levels of minerals that have accumulated in an individual’s body. For their study, the Russian researchers first analyzed hair samples from 215 Russian trotting horses to establish the average bodily levels of 25 elemental minerals. For each mineral, levels that fell between the 25th and 75th percentile were considered the ``physiological standard.” The researchers then analyzed hair samples from 56 additional trotting horses to determine where they fell in the range for each mineral and then they compared those findings with each animal’s racing record. The data showed that the highest achieving horses had significantly lower levels of iodine, chromium, cobalt, cadmium, lithium, vanadium, aluminum, and lead in their hair samples than did those who did not perform as well. The researchers also found that as a horse’s mineral levels increased, his performance decreased. The slowest group of horses had high levels of 13 elements: Phosphorus, iron, Copper, Manganese, iron, Cobalt, Silicon, Potassium, Chromium, nickel, Vanadium, aluminum, and lead. The researchers conclude that there’s a negative correlation between the accumulation of toxic minerals and speed in trotting horses.