The Australian Racing Board (ARB) has undertaken a scientific assessment of altitude/hypoxic training in horses to address potential welfare, probity and public perception issues.
The concern is that hypoxic training in horses by intermittently breathing a gas mix with artificially reduced percentage of oxygen through a mask or in a chamber promotes a transient red blood cell production response.
However, there are currently no definitive, rigorously peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate a performance effect, beneficial or otherwise. Hypoxic training can be compared with other novel training modalities such as hill work, interval training, beach training and aqua walkers and is unlikely to be capable of improving a horse’s performance beyond its genetic potential.
On the basis of current scientific knowledge of the effects of hypoxic training in horses, the ARB does not believe that this technology warrants regulation at this time.
However, authorities will continue to monitor the science and if evidence in the future suggests that hypoxic training should be regulated, the ARB will act. Investors in equipment or infrastructure for the purposes of altitude/hypoxic training should take note that there are ongoing research efforts into the technology with unknown outcomes.