Think fitness isn’t important if you’re competing at a lower level of equestrian sport? You might want to think again.
Imagine this: you’ve not been to the gym in several months. You are still active — you take the dog for walks, ride several horses a week, and take the stairs at the mall — so you figure there’s no harm in signing up for a fun 5k run with your friends.
Race day approaches, and you feel primed and excited and raring to go. As the starting signal blasts, you kick off and enjoy the feeling of pure exertion and human ability.
But after a quarter mile, something happens. Your lungs seize up, your calves cramp, and you have a burning stitch in your side that definitely was not there during your last ride.
What the heck? Turns out, you weren’t actually as fit as you thought. You finish the race, but the next day your shins are shot with pain and your hips are giving you a painful reminder that you’re no longer 17.
Now imagine this scenario when it comes to your horse. Sure, your horse may be reasonably athletic, serviceably fit. But that cross-country schooling lesson you have scheduled, your first one in a few months, may have effects on your horse that aren’t going to register as dead lameness or illness.
This doesn’t mean your horse doesn’t feel any ill effects. This is an important topic that we discussed with five-star Australian eventer and Hylofit rider Clayton Fredericks during the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event last month.
What are some important takeaways from our chat with Clayton?
Know what affects your horse’s heart rate. With Hylofit, you can know more about your horse. As Clayton points out, there is more to fitness work than simply just galloping. That part of fitness work is a small part of a bigger picture — one that Hylofit can help you see more of.
It’s important to know what gets your horse’s heart rate higher. Using Hylofit’s zone intensity feature, you can see exactly what range your horse is working in, and by translation how hard they are working. Use this information to fine tune your fitness schedule.
Learn how to improvise with fitness work. Not everyone has access to terrain or a nicely groomed gallop track. That’s ok! Learn to improvise.
By using Hylofit to track your horse’s heart rate during fitness work, you can find areas that encourage your horse to work a little harder. Perhaps you need to add a bit more speed or a bit more time to your ride. Maybe just a vigorous hack around the pastures is enough to work into your existing fitness routine as a supplement.
Use your Hylofit to paint this picture of your horse. Not all of us can ride every day. Now you can use averages over time to analyze what is working for your horse and maximize the time you do have in the saddle.
Featured image by Leslie Threlkeld/Eventing Nation.