If your goal is to level up your horse’s health, fitness, and wellbeing this year, now is the time to get started. Even if you aren’t a competing rider, maintaining a healthy level of fitness for your horse’s job is important to decrease the risk of injury and lameness. And for you as a rider, fitness outside of the saddle is also important.
So with that in mind, Hylofit is proud to launch an all-new training plan designed so riders of all levels and disciplines can participate. We believe that health and wellness should be at the forefront of our riding, and we want to give you some tools to help monitor progression.
Over the next seven weeks, we will roll out weekly training plans that any rider can follow. While these plans are intended to be guides and not a replacement for a trainer, we think you’ll find them useful! Remember to check with your vet before starting any new training regimen and then adjust the program as necessary to meet the needs of your horse.
This week, we want you to start by setting some benchmarks, collecting some data, and doing a Baseline ride. Baseline information is important for tracking any sort of progress. After all, how will you know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started?
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Write Down Your Goals
Where do you want to be next month? In July? At the end of the year? Write down your goals — and visit this blog if you need some inspiration on how to set reasonable and realistic goals. Next, work backwards from your goals and come up with small but tangible changes or adjustments you can make to your daily routine to meet those goals.
Gather Your Data
We’re going to ask you to check in with your goals and collect data periodically over the next few weeks. To stay organized, use the Notes feature in the Hylofit app to make notes on the days you check resting heart rate and vitals.
Resting Heart Rate: Get a reading of your horse’s resting heart rate. Ideally, you should take this measurement when your horse is at rest in his stall and not excitable. Attach your Hylofit using a surcingle and let it go to work. Establish an average now so you have something to reference later when you recheck to assess readiness to train.
Recovery Rate: Leave your Hylofit on after your ride concludes. Measure your horse’s heart rate at 1 minute and 10 minutes following your exercise. Make a note of the difference. This is your horse’s heart rate recovery, which will be a key component of determining fitness progression.
Pro Tip: Hylofit allows you to add Markers to a ride after you’ve completed it. To do this, go to the three-dot menu in your Ride Summary, select "View/Add Markers", and add the marker at the desired time of the ride.
Respiratory Rate: Check your horse’s respiratory rate by counting the number of breaths he takes for a 15 second period. Make sure he is at rest when you do this. On average, a horse should take about 8 to 14 breaths per minute.
Temperature: Get accustomed to taking your horse’s temperature periodically, and make a note of it. Generally, an adult horse should clock in around 99.5-100.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make a habit of this, set one day a month aside to gather vitals and make a note of them. You never know when this information will come in handy.
Give Your Horse a Once Over
This should be something you do during your daily grooming as it is, but take a moment now to do a quick glance over your horse after a ride. Does he look exhausted? Are his eyes bright? Are there any blemishes or other anomalies that need your attention? Look for physical signs of fitness (or lack thereof), but also remember that each horse is unique and so paying attention to your horse specifically will give you a bigger picture of his health.
Now, For the Exercise of the Week:
Walk, walk, walk. Now, we know that every rider reading this may be at a different point in their horse’s fitness. However, assuming that many riders take it a bit easier during the winter season, it’s safe to assume that a lot of horses are coming back into full work right around now. If this describes your horse, a great place to start off is with a lot of walking.
Many riders don’t spend enough time just walking — it’s slow and boring, we get it. But doing this builds up their legs and tendons over time and increases their circulation without too much impact on their limbs.
Set a goal to do at least 20 minutes of walking before or after each ride you do this week, or set up a ride or two for only walking. Make sure your horse is walking forward, into the contact, and not dragging his feet lazily. He doesn’t need to be in a working or in a dressage frame, but he does need to be moving forward and swinging his body.
Come back next week for week two, where we will begin adding on time and intensity to kick start your training plan. Want to receive these updates and instructions via email every week? Click here to sign up for free!
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