Equine endurance training schedule
Before starting a training schedule for the conditioning of horses, the following factors must be taken into consideration.
-The horse’s previous conditioning
-The difficulty level of the event in which the horse will participate,
-The time period available for strengthening the endurance of the horse
The physical effects of endurance training include less risk of injury, greater skill, strength and endurance. Following are some of the benefits due to training:
* Pulling of ligaments and tendons is reduced
* Bone density is increased
* Oxygen uptake increases during exercise and ventilation decreases
* There is change in muscle fiber type for the better, increased strength and size of muscle as well as increased aerobic capacity.
* The fitness of cardiovascular system increases leading to lowered heartbeat during exercise, increase in the number of red blood cells, decreased resistance to the exercise and strength of heart increases.
* There is an increase in thermoregulation efficiency.
The endurance training should be specific to the type of event that the horse participates. Training programs are usually categorized into slow and high speed training programs:
Slow speed training is known as endurance training in other words. It is generally used in all training programs and in some cases may involve the ‘breaking in’ of the horse. This program is normally a prelude to the more intense training programs. Slow speed training program promotes the aerobic production of ATP for energy. To achieve this, the program includes trotting and also cantering at slow speeds over long distances for long periods of time. The distance the horse travels is gradually increased by the trainers over a period of time (usually two to three week intervals). Depending on the type of event, the time a horse spends in slow speed training program varies less than five weeks to about nine months. Lesser time is more suitable for racehorses whereas more time is appropriate for endurance horses. Slow speed conditioning results in a number of advantages such as increase in strength of limbs and aerobic capacity.
High speed conditioning is mostly used for increasing the anaerobic capacity of the horse. It is not much concerned with endurance. There are also psychological benefits to the training program that appears in the form of increased confidence and desire to perform well. A right balance has to be maintained between undertraining and overtraining. The former will lead to minimization of adaptation of the horse whereas the latter will lead to overtraining and subsequent loss of ability to perform.
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