|April 19, 2016||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
So obviously it’s been a while since I got this question (the holiday in question is not easter….) but better late then never!
There are several good questions within this “question” so let’s take them one by one. This is an answer of opinions and not anything backed up by specific studies.
- I just want to clarify something. The way “endurance” is used in the article is different than how we usually interpret it here – it’s doesn’t mean running or riding a long distance or a long time. Look near the end of the article at the bullet points for a nice concise summary of what the article is trying to say – basically that running more mileage improves aerobic capacity, which increases speed endurance, which is how long you can sustain a pace during a race. Or, even more simply: emphasizing longer distances can translate into speed at shorter distances.
- How does this translate to equine endurance? Train and complete a couple of 100’s and you just might see your horse get faster at 50’s.
- I think that most horses do have a certain “zone of efficiency” rate that is probably partially determined by conformation – some horses seem to have a “cruising trot” of 6 mph, and others go 12 mph without even blinking an eye. However, before we say that this cruising speed cannot change in an individual horse, let’s consider dressage.
- In dressage the quality of the gait is scored. Quality of the gait could be considered innate and largely based on conformation like speed…..BUT it CAN be improved. By training correctly and consistently the gait can get more correct and improve. If we can change the quality of the gait by altering how the horse uses its existing conformation, I have a hard time believing that speed/efficiency of a gait can’t similarly be altered.
- Personal anecdote – after a couple years of dedicated dressage training Farley, always an efficient fast trotter, got even better. I used to be able to “feel” the difference between a 8 and 12 mph trot because of how she was using her body. Now her 12 mph trot feels as effortless and efficient as her slower trot.
- In summary, I think that biological systems are incredibly adaptable and malleable and a true back of the pack horse (one that isn’t being held there artificially by the rider) may not improve to top 10 pace, can still become more efficient and have marked improvement.
- I think that a horse gets stronger at faster paces because of other work, not because he is forced to keep a certain form as speed increases. Just like speed in shorter distances can be built by running longer distances slower, it’s the “other” work that improves horses’ form over speed and distance.
- IMO, having the rider work to keep the horse in good form over distance does more for the rider’s fitness then the horse’s…
- I don’t have a study to back this up, however here is my experience. Often the thing you want (the horse to have good self carriage over distance at a greater speed) occurs because you do other things that build the foundation for that. It requires the foundation, but it does not build the foundation. Form (and thus strength) over time and distance is built through miles, short arena dressage sessions, hill work, and some interval work.
Do you agree? Disagree?