Mark Sutherland has been driving chuckwagons for over 25 years.
The most important thing to him is safety for his outriders and his horses. That’s why he got involved in a new study with the University of Calgary.
Researchers are looking to see if a device used in hospitals to test the blood of severely ill humans can also measure the physical fitness of animals.
The handheld analyzer is being tested on horses competing in this year’s Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede. Renaud Léguillette, the chair of equine sports medicine at the University of Calgary, is heading up the study.
Sutherland hopes the study leads to him being able to eventually use a device that gives him the information he needs before races.
“With my experience with Dr. Leguillette and U of C medicine, it’s gonna pan out,” Sutherland said.
The idea is to monitor the horses before they hit the track to see which ones are strongest and least likely to get tired and injured.
“Had the Calgary Flames known that Jaromir Jagr was where he was, they wouldn’t have signed him,” Sutherland said “I’m not saying it’s going to be a miracle, that I can tell these horses are going to be my stars, but it’s gonna help.”
Researchers are hoping to publish the results this winter and to have the device available for next year’s Stampede.