World renowned dressage rider Laura Graves knows the importance of staying in tune with her horses. In order to stay at the top of your game at any level, it’s vital to have a big picture of the horse you’re working with. So what has Laura learned from her time using Hylofit? We caught up with her recently:
Why did Hylofit speak to you as a tool?
"Immediately, I was intrigued because my top horse, Verdades, struggles with roaring. It is a fairly common condition which causes paralysis in larynx and causes extremely noisy breathing during his work.
Because he has less oxygen intake than a normal horse, his fitness has always been so important to me. And no matter how fit I thought I had him, I was always just guessing. The Hylofit allows me to track his actual cardio fitness and feel safe about his health, no matter how much noise he is making!"
Why is Hylofit relevant for dressage training?
"I think most dressage riders don’t focus on their horse’s actual fitness as much as movements and tricks. The most relevant aspect for me is during competition. Whether due to stress or actual physical exertion, I found my horse’s heart rate to be substantially higher at a show.
What this lets me know, is that in order for him to be really “fit to compete,” I need to be training him in these cardio zones at home. Otherwise his body will not have enough stamina at that higher level which can lead to injury."
How have you incorporated Hylofit into your training?
"I have incorporated it in many ways. The first was as I described a few scenarios above. But another interesting way is to help me make smart decisions in my daily training with the horses. I had a young mare who was occasionally a bit naughty.
My natural instinct is to say that she is nervous or scared. But with the Hylofit, I could see that her heart rate was staying in the resting zone! So I felt I was able to use different methods to help her understand, knowing that her reactions were not due to panic."
What are the top three exercises you focus on when using Hylofit?
"It depends on the horse and the day. The first thing I like to check is the horse’s heart rate during what I would consider a “normal” session. Then I build on that. For example, if the heart rate doesn’t seem high enough for the degree of difficulty, then I might work them a little harder in a gallop set or poles until I see it increase and try the exercise again to see if the increased heart rate improved the quality (very interesting on some horses!).
For building fitness, I will often use interval sets. I can track to the zone where I feel the horse needs to be to improve fitness, then back them down and see how long they take to recover. The recovery time should shorten over time."
As Laura and Verdades continue to work towards their goal of world domination, Hylofit is pleased to be along for the ride. We look forward to supporting Laura in her future endeavors as an official sponsor of her team!
Photos by Monica Stevenson Photography.