Using steam pumps to create varying levels of heat and humidity, Ohio State researchers found that at 90 degrees and 85 percent humidity (a common July morning in Atlanta) a horse would become fatigued in half the time as in the 45 degrees common to the event's origin in Northern Europe.
At the U. of I., under the same steamy conditions, Foreman found that horses could not cool off during the post-steeplechase trot. In subsequent laboratory tests, Foreman determined that stopping twice for ice-water baths allowed the horses to recover quickly and safely.
The veterinarians' recommendations showed up in the Olympic games, with shorter steeplechase courses, a longer cool-down period with two ice-water baths and closer medical monitoring. Allowing for changes in both event courses and in horse care because of weather-related conditions has proven effective in other horse competitions, Foreman said.