The power of small, incremental changes should not be underestimated. When we designed the Hylofit Training Club, we wanted to create a resource for riders who wanted to have a more tangible way of monitoring progress. By adding small amounts of time and intensity each week, riders are able to progressively up their horse’s (and their own) workload without the threat of overdoing it.
Remember: overtraining can easily derail your competition season, your horse’s rehab from injury, or simply burn both you and your horse out mentally. You must slow down in order to make quicker progress, so if you feel yourself getting impatient and wanting results, well, yesterday — take a deep breath! Enjoy the process and keep track of your rides so that you can take note of any improvements.
For Week 3 of the Hylofit Training Club, we’re once again just adding one minute of additional time to each direction and gait. One minute may not seem like much, but each minute added is another building block onto you and your horse’s foundation of fitness.
This week, we’re nearly halfway through the seven week Training Club, and with a week of Active Recovery coming next week it’s time to check in on your metrics. Take a moment to pull up the rides from the past few weeks and make note of the following pieces of data:
- Average heart rate and max heart rate
- Recovery rate - 2 minutes following exercise and 10 minutes following exercise
- Resting heart rate
Some riders keep a notebook handy to log data points such as resting heart rate or pulse. You can also use the Notes feature in the Hylofit app or simply keep a log on your phone.
A horse that is gaining more fitness may show:
- Lower average heart rate and max heart rate (dependent on variables such as weather, terrain, etc.)
- Quicker recovery heart rate (heart rate should drop to around 100 bpm with 2 minutes of work, and to 60 bpm within 10 minutes of work)
And don’t forget to monitor for physical signs, too:
- Is your horse willing to go forward off your leg, or does he pin his ears at the aid?
- Is your horse breathing quickly upon completing work? How quickly does his breathing return to normal?
- Check your horse’s resting heart rate. Is it higher than his typical average? This could indicate pain or soreness from overwork.
- Is your horse barely breaking a sweat and/or is his heart rate lower than average during work? Some horses are more naturally fit than others! Consider adding in some more difficulty, such as ground poles/cavalletti, terrain, or frequent transitions, as some examples.
We have a fun ground pole exercise that any rider should be able to complete. As always, we recommend consulting with your trainer before attempting a new exercise.
For this exercise, you’ll need seven poles. Create a line of four trot poles, set about four feet apart. Then, use two poles on either side of the trot poles to create a turning canter pole exercise with about nine feet in between each pole.
This allows you to practice your straightness and impulsion at the trot as well as your balance and turning at the canter. Watch this exercise:
Key checkpoints for this exercise:
Straightness: Your horse should be straight through the middle of each trot pole and should have the impulsion to pick up his feet and not knock the poles.
Balance: The canter poles should set you up on a neat circle - don’t approach with too much or too little speed, rather focus on a quality canter stride to set up a neat hop through each “triangle”
Bend: Don’t rely solely on your hands to make the turns neat. Turn from your outside aids and keep your horse out in front of your leg through each turn.
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