Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Software image of perfect exercise session

Above is the visual depiction of a thoroughbred 'breezing' a half mile in :49 seconds. 

The red line is heart rate response, the blue line is velocity of gallop, and the baseline is elapsed time of the workout.
Note the relationship of the red and blue lines, the closer they are together - the better the ability/performance of the horse.
The peak of the blue line is the actual fast half mile portion of this bout. He gets faster as the half mile effort proceeds, what we call 'finishing strong'.

This 4 year old gelding went on to win 4 of his next 6 races.

Next post we see what a bad exercise session looks like.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tools of the Trade

OK, this is all well and good you say, but how do we measure these variables? And most importantly, how do we measure the horse's response to the workload?

Heart rate monitors have been around forever, but now many models come with a small (half a deck of cards sized) GPS unit. Now you can quantify speed, distance, altitude change, and the horse's physiological response to each. All takes place on-board while the horse is actually training, by the time he gets back to the barn - if you are waiting there with a stethoscope you have missed all the good stuff.

In addition, new lactate testing tools allow you to gather important blood data much like a human diabetic tests his/her insulin level, with a simple pinprick of blood - which is then immediately analyzed onsite. 

This is lactate testing, not traditional blood counts done by the vet to pickup on illnesses or infections. 

When a horse shows an increased ability to use blood lactate for energy, or an ability to remove the excess lactic acid from the bloodstream, that horse is being trained properly. 

Lastly, computer software has been written to analyze and draw conclusions from all of the collected data - and the process has never been easier.

The above to be covered in more detail over the following days....thanks for reading!-

Sunday, December 28, 2008

So what does it look like when you string together a bunch of perfect workouts over a period of time? The answer is line B below:

The dotted line represents fitness gains over time, with each block indicative of an individual workout. 

Line A shows undertraining, with too much time elapsing between exercise, in this case fitness gains are lost prior to the next workout.

Line C shows overtraining, where too many, and too difficult, workouts are chained together to break down the animal physically. 

Line B is what we all strive for, note the relative size of the workouts changes as fitness increases, this illustrates the concept of PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD, which we will tackle next post.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Key to all Conditioning

The whole purpose of training is to provide an exercise stimulus that results in the horse coming back stronger and fitter in the days that follow.

The baseline in the above image represents time, if we perform the appropriate training load, after recovery from fatigue, the athlete bounces back to a state of greater fitness (overcompensation).

The variables that we can alter in any equine training regimen are gallop speed, distance, and frequency. Each horse, at each moment in time, has a specific combination of these 3 variables that will result in optimal fitness. 

What are yours? How fast? How far? How often?


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays-

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.
Over the year to come, here are some of the topics that will be discussed:

equine exercise physiology, thoroughbred racing, breeding, polo pony conditioning, eventing, endurance, speed, stamina, injury prevention, etrakka, niagara equissage, heart rate and GPS monitors, lactate testing, nutrition for maximum performance, ideal gallop speeds, heart rate intensity zones, interval training, etc.

I look forward to our journey in 2009 and beyond...


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Welcome to my blog--

My name is Bill Pressey and I am an Equine Exercise Physiologist based in Louisville, Ky.

Using the latest technological advancements, I specialize in creating customized conditioning plans for horses competing in many disciplines: thoroughbred racing, endurance, eventing, polo, etc.

In this space I will talk about how the science of exercise physiology can help you train your horses individually, while using the latest tools available to ensure success. 

Please check back regularly for updates and case studies of my real life equine athletes as I guide them to optimal performances while minimizing the risk of injury.