Winter: training with the heart rate monitor
It’s cold and the ground frozen, but the new outdoor season is coming fast. Use your heart rate monitor to train better in winter and prevent injury as much as possible. We provide 5 tips here:
- Warming-up It makes sense: in cold weather it takes longer for muscles, tendons and ligaments to warm up. This requires a longer warming-up and a gradual build-up in intensity. The heart rate monitor allows you to control the gradual increase in heart rate and to slow down if the heart rate goes up suddenly. You do the same with the cooling-down, only the other way around. Make sure the heart is low (below 60 for most horses) before stopping.
- Prevent heavy sweating Check at what heart rates your horse starts sweating and make sure these heart rates are only reached for short periods of time.
- Loss of fitness? Your horse may have had some rest during the winter. If the heart rates are now higher on average and recovery takes longer than it did last season, your horse has lost fitness. Read more about this in our blog on getting back on track with your horse’s training after a period of rest.
- LSD training Do you dare to go out in winter? It’s better to take it easy on frozen ground, which makes winter a good time for Long Slow Distance training. The heart rate is between 60 and 120 during LSD training. Half an hour can be long for a young horse, for older horses the training takes at least an hour.
- Interval training Do you have a large indoor arena (min. 30 m. wide) or good outdoor surface? There, short intervals improve the fitness of your horse without making him sweat heavily. A program can be: 3 x 30 seconds at heart rates between 140-180, interspersed with 1,5 minute walks. Cold air may harm your horses respiratory system, so it’s best to avoid training on cold mornings.
Of course it’s important to keep a close eye on the ground. It’s good for the coordination to use different surfaces, but safety always comes first. You’ll find more tips on riding safely in winter here:
- Dr. David Marlin, equine exercise physiologist: tips for cold weather training and management
- Horse and Hound tips for riding safely in winter
- Tips by Eventer Nicola Wilson for fitness training in winter