CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State University recently received a grant to buy a $170,000 treadmill.
Horses can go up to 25 miles per hour on the treadmill. "Initially introducing the horse to a treadmill is always a bit of an exciting experience," said Erica McKenzie, assistant professor of Large Animal Internal Medicine.
Scientists have to train the horses to walk when the treadmill starts.
"The whole time we are training them we teach them to listen to our voices so that even when they are scared, they hear a voice cue that they understand and know to walk even though the floor has suddenly started moving," said Mckenzie.
Scientists tell KVAL News that only takes a few days. Even then, the horses have to ease in to the gallup. Trainers start them on a walk, then move to a trot, then they speed them up to a gallop. They can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
The treadmill is not only for training, but also for research.
"It's invaluable as a piece of equipment," said McKenzie. "I can actually take blood samples from the galloping horse."
Mckenzie said the treadmill could hold important keys into equine physiology.
"When we look at horses standing still, the airway can look completely normal," said McKenzie. "When they are racing, it can be severely impaired and that is something we can look for on the treadmill.
And the horses seem to like the treadmill. McKenzie said their ears perk up and they look forward to walking on their new toy.