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A Dead Cert : Experiment 2

A Dead Cert

2. Invasive experiments conducted on unborn foals

University of Cambridge, Department of Physiology

Several of the researchers involved in experiment 1 ‘prepared’ 13 pregnant pony mares in a similar manner for another set of invasive experiments.

In this case, five days after abdominal surgery, the actual experiments began. This study looked at the blood flow in the hind leg of the unborn foal. Three different stimulant drugs were injected into the foals through catheters, which were connected to a bag secured to the flank of the mare. In all, there were three test sessions, each of which typically lasted for two days. In all of the trials, the drugs had the effect of significantly increasing the blood pressure of the foal. Blood samples were taken at various intervals and the data recorded.


Following the conclusion of the experiments, the animals were re-homed. However, based on the authors’ wording, it would appear that not all of the foals survived the experiments. Although the hind limbs are the driving force of the race horse, the research team offered no practical applications of this research. They did, however, acknowledge that the principles underlying their work had already been documented by other researchers, some as far back as 1972.

O’Connor SJ, Ousey JC, Gardner DS, Fowden AL, Giussani DA. J Physiol,2006; 572.1:155-164. Development of baroreflex function and hind limb vascular reactivity in the horse fetus

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