June 21 - A new compression suit for horses, designed to replicate the compression trousers worn by all top flight human athletes, is used by world class race horses in an attempt to get an edge on competition. Sharon Reich reports.
STORY: It might look like she's wearing a wet suit, but Black Caviar isn't horsing around. The Australian champ is actually sporting a compression suit ahead of her journey to compete in Saturday's Royal Ascot in England. And like any athlete, horses need to protect their muscles before a big race, says trainer Peter Moody. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PETER MOODY, BLACK CAVIAR'S TRAINER SAYING: "Taking advice from the vet and the chiropractor this mare has always been quite susceptible to soft tissue injuries muscle tears and the like and also the fact she's gonna be standing in a horse box for some 30 odd hours en-route." Graduated compression suits work by helping the circulation of blood. When the heart pumps blood down to the legs, the tight fitting suit increases the pressure on the muscles, easing the flow of blood back to the heart. As a result there is an increase in the amount of oxygen reaching the muscles and lactic acid is flushed out. The suit's inventor Matt Spice says it also helps protect the muscles from vibration -- which can impact horses like Black Caviar when they travel to big races. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MATT SPICE, COMPRESSION SUIT INVENTOR SAYING: "It's been used in human medicine for a long, long time -- in sports science for probably 15 to 20 years and no one's ever picked up the pieces with horses and I understand why, it was very challenging. Its taken us about 3 years, 3 and a little bit years to get it. Its been a mammoth effort. Horses are very difficult to work with. You just can't bend their legs and put them into a suit." Black Caviar's trainers are hoping her state of the art suit will ensure she's first out of the gate and ready to 'giddy up and go'… come race time. Sharon Reich, Reuters