How to train the 5 aspects of your horse’s fitness?
Our mission is to help horses and riders become Happy Athletes. Our weblog will tell you more about the key to the success of different top riders: fitness training. By improving the fitness of your horse, he will become healthier, perform better and less prone to injuries. A heart rate monitor will help monitor and improve his fitness.
It doesn’t matter which discipline you perform, this article will tell you about improving the 5 aspects of fitness training:
• Mental fitness
Every discipline requires a different quantity of the 5 aspects. Coordination is important to reduce the probability of injuries. Stamina is important as well, but there is a big difference between endurance- and dressage horses. Power is important for collecting in dressage and for high jumps. Speed is required for jumping, western and racing. Driving, eventing and all-round recreation horses require all 5 aspects. And finally, mental fitness is very important for every horse!
Your training has to match your goals. If you would like to mainly do jumping, it´s not enough to trot through the arena or forest. Here´s how you train all aspects the best way:
To make your horse more skilful, you perform difficult exercises shortly and frequently. 15 minutes twice a day rather than 30 minutes once a day. Try to do exercises that match your discipline: if you would like to a ride outside, step over small tree trunks and walk through deep sand. Let your dressage horse take a turn backwards and use cavaletti for a jumping horse. Try to think some creative and out of the box, coordination training is fun!
Training at a low intensity for longer periods helps you build stamina, this is called LSD. No, you don´t have to be high on your horse, it means long slow distance. In dressage for example, you can work on relaxation for 1,5 hours 2 times a week. Elite endurance horses exercise up to 16 hours per week this way! It is important not to increase the speed and distance at the same time, as this increases the risk of injury. Start your training at a low pace and then slowly increase the intensity. Use a heart rate monitor to control the intensity and slow down when the heart rate rises.
If your horse has improved its stamina, then you can start working on power. This is important for collecting and carrying the weight of the rider. You can achieve this by adding some resistance to your training: going up- and down hill and riding through sand and water. Adding a difficult exercise where the horse has use its hindquarters and abs is also advised. Do all these exercises in small sets and take a break after every set. If you go on too long, you will only train stamina, so you have to build up slowly. The heart rate should increase moderately when doing these exercises, but the real increase comes from speed!
Speed can be increased using interval training, like galloping 4 times for 3 minutes with 3 minutes of walking in between. Slowly go down to 2 minutes of walking, then 1 minute and finally no rest. You can try different variations, but make sure to stop if your horse´s heart rate rises above normal values, if he starts sweating excessively or the breathing becomes too heavy. Speed training is risky, so make sure your horse´s coordination, the stamina and power are up for it! A good and flat track is another condition.
The keyword for a happy horse is variety. Although your training has to be specific for a certain purpose, you should always try to in different ways to keep your horse satisfied. So dressage riders: get those cavaletti out and start training in the woods. Recreational riders: don’t take the same route every time. And jumpers: train stamina and speed by cantering on a racetrack. It´s fun for both horse and rider!
Do check on our weblog regularly to make sure you don’t miss any new blogs and stay informed about training, heart rate monitors and creating training plans!