Eventing 101 Workshop: Conditioning
How amazing is it to have an entire group or riders that actually are willing and interested in sitting down for a group discussion of all things horses??!! I was so proud of our group this morning, I can’t even tell you. Pen and paper poised, I tortured these riders with big words and a (brief) lecture on equine physiology followed by (torturing) interval work. I look forward to offering more workshops on concentrated subjects in the future.
For this workshop we focused on conditioning and understanding why it is important for our horses. Though much more eloquently discussed during the discussion, here are the cliff notes from the lecture.
Focal point: Heart, Blood, Lungs
Exciting, isn’t it??
in thoracic cavity
in front of horses “elbow”
10% of Horses weight
Volume of 40 liters at rest
Red Blood Cells (RBC)
White Blood Cells ( WBC)
Red Blood Cells
Manufactured in bone marrow
Carry Oxygen around body
White Blood Cells
Manufactured in Spleen
Primary function is to fight infection
Manufactured in Bone Marrow
Primary Function is blood clotting
Stroke Volume: amount of blood pumped at each systole
@ rest = 900 ml
@ max = 1200 ml
* 33% increase
Heart Rate: Number of beats per minute
Average resting Heart Rate (HR) Range= 25-50 bpm
Average HR = 35 bpm
Low resting heart rate is favorable. Large heart with high stroke volume.
Why is it useful to know your horse’s resting HR? Changes can indicate: pain, sickness, excitement, fear
Take note is is challenging to take your horse’s resting heart rate, even walking out of the stall can increase it 10%.
Cardiac Output: amount of blood pumped by heart each minute
Cardiac Output = Heart Rate x Stroke Volume
*Cardiovascular response to exercise
The fitter the horse, the faster the HR decline post exercise.
At rest 15 % of circulating blood is delivered to muscles. This increases to about 85 % during strenuous exercise.
What are the effects of conditioning?
decrease HR and Cardiac Output
Increase ability to consume oxygen because of increases efficiency of cardiovascular system
increase ability of muscles to extract oxygen
increased capillarization: allows great contact between RBCs and muscle fibers
Respiratory System Oxygen is consumed during aerobic metabolism
During exercise a horse’s Oxygen consumption increases 35% over it’s resting values
Fun Note: Horses are obliged to breathe through their nose
Respiratory Rate: Number of breathes per minute
Range: 12-20 Breathes per minute
During exercise as high as 180 breathes/min
In canter/gallop respiratory rate is usually coupled with a 1:1 ratio
Aerobic v. Anaerobic Metabolism
Reference to an old blog post HERE for a brief description.
Aerobic: Highly dependent on good blood supply to muscles and for removal of waste products
provides continuous energy supply for long periods of time
Anaerobic: Oxygen is not required and lactate is not produced as a waste product
Advantage: immediately available when exercise starts
provides energy to support high intensity exercise
no toxic waste is released
Drawback: early onset of fatigue
Takes 3 mins if the horse rests completely for replenishment
Lactate: Toxic waste product of anaerobic lactic metabolism
Anaerobic Threshold : The intensity of exercise at which the blood lactate rises and onset of blood lactate accumulation
*See Conditioning Sport Horses by Hilary M. Clayton for further discussion about all of the above information.
These reasons are why we use INTERVAL TRAINING!! Yay, JImmy Wofford.
What does this mean?
5″ @ 220 m/m w/2″i +
4″ @ 400 m/m w/2″i
At this stage in the discussion, I was starting to see the glaze fall over people’s eyes and their fingers have indents from writing so much! I had everyone look up interval sets and discussed the theory of interval training with graphs, charts, and walking demonstrations on the carpet in the lounge at MEC.
Since this blog post is getting quite long as well, from this point in the workshop, everyone went and suited up, and rode the interval sets together! Ohhhh the pain of 2 pointing!!!
I’m impressed by everyone’s attention and eagerness to learn the stuff behind the methodology. I very much look forward to the next workshop. If you have any topics of concentration you would like to see presented, please let me know!