Conditioning the Driving Horse
Ri     Richard J. Forfa, DVM, DipABVP
Monitoring Heart and RespiratoryRates
Respiration/Heart Rate   Stethoscope   Heart Rate Monitor -- $$       (Polar Company)
Objective: Long slow distance   60 minutes of work at average speed of    8kph   Aerobic endurance = exercise for a    p...
Start your distance component first   For example: Start long slow distances    three times per week at a walk and trot....
Conditioning   Cardiovascular: The objective is to    raise the aerobic capability while    still maintaining sufficient ...
Anaerobic conditioning   Later stage of conditioning   Heart rates 170 – 200 bpm   Working horse at fast speeds, on a  ...
Questions?
Duration of High Speed or Intense Work   Controlled to Minimize Risk or Injury    Due to Fatigue or Overloading   Uphill...
Respiratory Conditioning   Rate and depth of breathing    controlled in part by    chemoreceptors which respond to    lev...
Respiratory Conditioning   Normal Breaths per minute 12-20   Can go as high as 180 bpm   When exercise stops, horse’s r...
Respiratory Conditioning   If overheating is a problem, the    horse will pant.   Panting = Fast and Shallow Breaths   ...
Thermoregulation   Rectal temperature at rest averages    38° C/100.5° F   During warm up, the body    temperature rises...
Thermoregulation   The rate of heat build up depends on:       Duration of exercise       Intensity of exercise       ...
Questions?
Strength Training   Pull up hills   Add weight (gradually!) to carriage    to 30-50% over competition weight   Vary tra...
Training Tapering work load prior to competition allows glycogen storage in muscles to be replenished. Do NOT over train.
Dynamic Suppling   Good warm-up and cool-down   Dressage under saddle   Large and small circles with carriage
Passive Suppling   Stretching exercises
Peaking and Tapering   Low level horses 5 days prior to    competition   Upper level horses decrease long slow    work a...
Peaking and Tapering   Exercise daily but decrease level       Allows any minor tissue damage to heal   After a fitness...
Questions?
Heat Dissipation   Exercise = heat production   Dissipation - Most important    Evaporation   Sweat facilitates evapora...
Water   Idle horse, cool day: 28 L/day (4-5    gallons minimum)   Idle horse, hot day: 80 L/day (9-10    gallons minimum...
Fluid losses   Hard to estimate   Weight loss during exercise is about 90% water   Horses body 65% water   Foxhunter 3...
Equine Body Water   Most intracellular   Some extracellular - Blood Plasma    Large part of horses blood volume –    Is ...
Plasma Volume Depletion    Occurs if sweat losses are large   Horse has less blood flow to the    muscles   Dehydration...
Electrolyte losses Horse     Sweat :   Calcium   Sodium   Chloride   Potassium   Protein   Trace Minerals
Electrolyte losses with activity   Fox Hunter - 3 hours of going (33-148g    sodium) (12-51g potassium) (63_284g    chlor...
Results of electrolyte imbalances   Acid – Base Imbalance in body   Muscle cramping, Tying up ,    Thumps   Less sweati...
Thirst Response and Desire to Drink   High sodium loss in horse causes    less response to drink > plasma    sodium cause...
Questions?
How do we get horses to drink well   Access to forage – hay = MOST    IMPORTANT   Adapt them to drinking strange    wate...
Pre-event feeding practices    Diets that maximize water intake    and retention    > dry feed > water consumption    go...
Event practices   Train you horse to drink in the rest    after the walk section    Electrolyte paste can be helpful but...
Feeding on Competition Day    Old theory was to starve horse on     the day of the competition, which     leaves them wit...
Veterinary issues in a dehydratedhorse   Administration of water without    electrolytes   Administration of electrolyte...
Post Event    Monitor your horse carefully right    after the event and for a day or two   If you have a long trailer tr...
Post Event    Transportation can be a    dehydrating experience on its own    and transporting a dehydrated    horse may ...
Prevention of overheating   How much work will the horse do    and how strenuous will it be above    and beyond what he h...
Cooling a Hot Horse    Apply copious amounts of water    and scrape it off with a sweat    scraper    Use ice cooled wat...
Remember….   Without proper care & conditioning    you’ll have a carriage, but no horse    to pull it.
Thank You!!
Conditioning the driving horse
Conditioning the driving horse
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Conditioning the driving horse

  1. 1. Conditioning the Driving Horse
  2. 2. Ri Richard J. Forfa, DVM, DipABVP
  3. 3. Monitoring Heart and RespiratoryRates
  4. 4. Respiration/Heart Rate Stethoscope Heart Rate Monitor -- $$  (Polar Company)
  5. 5. Objective: Long slow distance 60 minutes of work at average speed of 8kph Aerobic endurance = exercise for a prolonged period at low to moderate intensity. Resting HR = 28-40 bpm Measure a distance 1-3 kilometers then calculate average speed with a Stopwatch. Measure pulse or heart rate, 100-160 bpm
  6. 6. Start your distance component first For example: Start long slow distances three times per week at a walk and trot. As the work gets easier for the horse do one long work at the full distance Then 2-6 shorter conditioning drives at faster speed. HR may rise to 70-180 bpm. This work should be accomplished over a minimum of a two week period.
  7. 7. Conditioning Cardiovascular: The objective is to raise the aerobic capability while still maintaining sufficient anaerobic power and muscle strength for bursts of high intensity activity. (e.g., pulling a big hill or driving through a hazard)
  8. 8. Anaerobic conditioning Later stage of conditioning Heart rates 170 – 200 bpm Working horse at fast speeds, on a steep hill, through a hazard or on sandy ground.
  9. 9. Questions?
  10. 10. Duration of High Speed or Intense Work Controlled to Minimize Risk or Injury Due to Fatigue or Overloading Uphill gradients are best at the trot Load cardiovascular and respiratory systems without high stress to bones and joints
  11. 11. Respiratory Conditioning Rate and depth of breathing controlled in part by chemoreceptors which respond to levels of blood O2, CO2, and arterial pH. Increased respiratory rate- decreased O2, increased CO2, decreased pH
  12. 12. Respiratory Conditioning Normal Breaths per minute 12-20 Can go as high as 180 bpm When exercise stops, horse’s respiration rate will settle to 60-100 bpm And breaths will be deep until O2 debt is repaired/replaced. One factor in determining the speed of recovery is the ambient temperature.
  13. 13. Respiratory Conditioning If overheating is a problem, the horse will pant. Panting = Fast and Shallow Breaths Panting is a heat exchange mechanism. Panting does NOT provide adequate O2 to lung tissue.
  14. 14. Thermoregulation Rectal temperature at rest averages 38° C/100.5° F During warm up, the body temperature rises about 1 degree F to get muscles up to optimal functional temperature.
  15. 15. Thermoregulation The rate of heat build up depends on:  Duration of exercise  Intensity of exercise  Environmental temperature, humidity and wind velocity.  Hydration status of horse  Hair coat and body mass Body temperature peaks 10 minutes after heavy exercise and should drop to normal within 10-20 minutes.
  16. 16. Questions?
  17. 17. Strength Training Pull up hills Add weight (gradually!) to carriage to 30-50% over competition weight Vary traveling surfaces (in moderation)  Deep ground (sand)  Water (provides drag)
  18. 18. Training Tapering work load prior to competition allows glycogen storage in muscles to be replenished. Do NOT over train.
  19. 19. Dynamic Suppling Good warm-up and cool-down Dressage under saddle Large and small circles with carriage
  20. 20. Passive Suppling Stretching exercises
  21. 21. Peaking and Tapering Low level horses 5 days prior to competition Upper level horses decrease long slow work and add more speed work two (2) weeks before the competition Allow the horse’s body to be fully hydrated Allow the horse’s body to have a high storage of glycogen Feed well prior to competition
  22. 22. Peaking and Tapering Exercise daily but decrease level  Allows any minor tissue damage to heal After a fitness peak, let the horse down slowly over a 2-3 week period. Stay at a low workload until about halfway to your next fitness peak, then increase work again.
  23. 23. Questions?
  24. 24. Heat Dissipation Exercise = heat production Dissipation - Most important Evaporation Sweat facilitates evaporation which leads to high Water and electrolyte losses
  25. 25. Water Idle horse, cool day: 28 L/day (4-5 gallons minimum) Idle horse, hot day: 80 L/day (9-10 gallons minimum) Exercise increases consumption, need for water
  26. 26. Fluid losses Hard to estimate Weight loss during exercise is about 90% water Horses body 65% water Foxhunter 3 hrs of steady going (24-100lbs) Endurance horse at 50 mi.(22-88lbs) Thoroughbred after a good gallop(10-15lbs)
  27. 27. Equine Body Water Most intracellular Some extracellular - Blood Plasma Large part of horses blood volume – Is the extracellular water pool.
  28. 28. Plasma Volume Depletion Occurs if sweat losses are large Horse has less blood flow to the muscles Dehydration has occurred Less sweating > body temperature
  29. 29. Electrolyte losses Horse Sweat : Calcium Sodium Chloride Potassium Protein Trace Minerals
  30. 30. Electrolyte losses with activity Fox Hunter - 3 hours of going (33-148g sodium) (12-51g potassium) (63_284g chloride) Thoroughbred – good gallop (16-23g sodium)(12-51g potassium(31-44g chloride) Endurance Horse at 50 mi.(13-132g sodium)(12-48g potassium)(63-252g chloride) Heavy sweat leads to both electrolyte and water loss
  31. 31. Results of electrolyte imbalances Acid – Base Imbalance in body Muscle cramping, Tying up , Thumps Less sweating > body heat
  32. 32. Thirst Response and Desire to Drink High sodium loss in horse causes less response to drink > plasma sodium causes the drinking response In humans we lose < sodium but more water so we want to drink
  33. 33. Questions?
  34. 34. How do we get horses to drink well Access to forage – hay = MOST IMPORTANT Adapt them to drinking strange water by flavoring the water at home . Let them see other horses drinking Hold a bucket up for them
  35. 35. Pre-event feeding practices Diets that maximize water intake and retention > dry feed > water consumption good Hay Mineral block availability Electrolyte supplementation in feed Water and electrolytes can be retained in the large intestine
  36. 36. Event practices Train you horse to drink in the rest after the walk section Electrolyte paste can be helpful but only if your horse drinks some at the rest
  37. 37. Feeding on Competition Day  Old theory was to starve horse on the day of the competition, which leaves them with an empty gut  Current theory is feed small meal of hay and grain 4 hours prior to start of the competition or long drive
  38. 38. Veterinary issues in a dehydratedhorse Administration of water without electrolytes Administration of electrolytes without water Veterinarian will give balanced I.V. solution
  39. 39. Post Event Monitor your horse carefully right after the event and for a day or two If you have a long trailer trip home it is best to wait a few hours before starting your trip home
  40. 40. Post Event Transportation can be a dehydrating experience on its own and transporting a dehydrated horse may lead to another problem like colic
  41. 41. Prevention of overheating How much work will the horse do and how strenuous will it be above and beyond what he has done in the past? How hot will it be and has your horse been trained to acclimate to the heat ( do you have an idea of his pre work and post work body temperatures) Heat Load ? How fit is your horse ?
  42. 42. Cooling a Hot Horse Apply copious amounts of water and scrape it off with a sweat scraper Use ice cooled water in large volumes Alcohol is also beneficial Get the horse in the shade in the breeze or in front of a fan Monitor his temperature
  43. 43. Remember…. Without proper care & conditioning you’ll have a carriage, but no horse to pull it.
  44. 44. Thank You!!

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