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Saturday, October 07, 2006

European Racing Abuzz Over Oxygen Therapy

Got oxygen? Coolmore Stud, one of the world's leading nurseries of Thoroughbreds, has plenty of it. They have just installed a hyperbaeric oxygen chamber at their main stud in County Tipperary in Ireland, home of some of the world's most valuable horses.

According to a report in today's London Times (Irish edition), Coolmore co-owner John Magnier plans to use the chamber for soft tissue injuries and laminitis therapy, but also has hopes that it will help with breeding problems of the farm's roster of stallions.

Hyperbaeric oxygen therapy has been used by human athletes for years, and in particular by deep-sea divers suffering from decompression ills. Horses were first exposed to the high-pressure treatments in Canada, where the therapy is common among hockey players.

In the U.S., a chamber is in use at Winstar Farm and at Keswick Equine Therapy Center, both in Lexington, Kentucky and at Alamo Pintado Equine Hospital in the Santa Ynez Valley of California. The therapy is also in use in Australia, according to the Times report.

Farrier/veterinarian Federico Oyuela of Buenos Aires, Argentina built and operates a chamber at the racetrack in that city, and is keen to share his experience and results. Coolmore's chamber cost more than a million euros; Federico has a more economical route to oxygen for horses that may make the therapy a more realistic alternative for therapy centers and veterinary clinics.

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