Seeing the way Chance has become so eager to run, and how he just pounds over the hard, hard ground, I think I’ve stumbled onto a good training regimen. Every other day, not every day.
I also think that galloping slow is perhaps not the best way to condition a horse to run a mile and 1/4 or less. It’s just too easy for them. I am a believer of long, slow distance to strengthen tendons, especially on young horses, but once a horse is racing – or has raced for years – I don’t think LSD is necessary. Especially on horses like Chance, who have full-time turnout on acres of varied terrain.
Years ago, I bought Tom Ivers’ book, The Fit Racehorse. And I read it too. My brain thought it made sense, but my gut said not really. I noticed, then, that no one had reported tremendous success using interval training, and now I am not surprised. It’s just way too much work, and too hard on their legs. Horses are not humans, they are born to run. Running them into the ground is not the way.
There are people who believe a version of interval training would work, but I’m not sure anyone is doing it, aside from Standardbred trainers and some Arab trainers. And trotting or pacing is very different from running. I really think heart rate is key – and the limiting factor. The faster a horse can go without sending his heart rate rocketing into the stratosphere, the better runner he or she should be.
I am so glad that I bought that heart rate monitor! Now I can’t wait to start taking Chance to Churchill, where he can run freely without the danger of tight turns – and to see what his heart rate is, and if it improves with each trip to the track.
I am not usually technologically challenged, but the heart rate monitor, the computer watch, and the GPS are trying me!
Tuesday it was hot. I went out to get Chance at 6:30, ready to set up the monitor and ride. Of course, no sooner do I tie him to the trailer, than I hear thunder and see clouds over the hill. Great. I briefly considered forgetting about riding, and just putting Chance away, but gauged the risk and decided to at least tack him up and see if I could get a reading on his heart rate.
I had a fresh battery in the GPS and it found satellites. Success! I attached the monitor, and activated it by installing the receiver. I turned on the computer, which is like a watch, and lo and behold – there was a heart rate! I felt incredibly lucky. It turned out not to be as hard as I’d remembered. I decided to push my luck with the weather a little bit more, and put the bridle on Chance. His heart rate was steady at 44. I was excited to see what happened when we went from walk to trot.
Naturally, what happened was that I lost the heart rate! Bringing Chance back to a walk, I fiddled with the watch but couldn’t get a reading. By then the wind had picked up and the storm was getting closer, so I called it a day. I was very disappointed. Everything had seemed to go so smoothly, only to end up in failure.
All was not lost however. I did successfully upload the tiny bit of data I had to Polar’s website, and learned how to view it as a chart. Now if I can just get the heart rate monitor on securely enough.
I worked all day Wednesday, so didn’t ride. Yesterday, it was really hot and humid. At 6:3o I got Chance and tacked him up. It was so humid that sweat was literally running down my face. And worse – there was another storm coming! Deja vu!
Evidently the GPS needs a completely fresh, recharged battery, it refused to work. This time I not only wet the sensors on the monitor, but also applied gel to get the best signal possible. Got a reading of 44, which dipped to 41 as we started walking around the track. Moving to a trot, the display on the watch changed and I couldn’t see the heart rate. I brought Chance to a walk, riding with one hand, looking at the watch, and pushing buttons with the other hand. Got a reading for a while, moved back into a trot and the display changed again. Three laps of walk/trot later, I gave up on the monitor. Chance was feeling good and wanted to gallop, so I let him.
I’m getting more fit! Enjoyed galloping along. As did Chance. At one point, approaching the far turn, I realized we were going way too fast. We slowed down enough to avoid catastrophe, but still were going way too fast around the turn. Luckily nothing bad happened. Will not let that happen again!
It was awesome to feel Chance just wanting to run, especially on that hard ground. After we were done, and I had fed Chance, I took photos of the track. Directly below is a photo of what the ground is like on the far turn, and on the stretch. As you can see, despite the fact that we did 7 laps, there is not one hoof print. There is no cushion of any kind.
Below is a photo of the “good” part of the track. It used to be nice thick grass and Chance loved it. The heat wave/drought really had an effect and it doesn’t look great, and is hard also.
I downloaded the data to Polar’s site to view it, and was glad to see that though I hadn’t been able to see it, the heart rate readings were there. Without the GPS data, it’s not complete, but was still interesting. Chance’s heart rate hit a high of 213 – which I assume is when we were flying down the backstretch. His average heart rate was 159. We spent 1:06 with his heart rate in Zone 5 (I did not set the zones, but think I can) where his HR ranged between 143 – 157. We spent 2:50 in Zone 4 – where the HR ranged between 111 – 126. But without the GPS data, there is no way to know the speed or distance. Still it was working so I’m happy.