Sunday, January 31, 2010

'Backyard' Training facility

After my trip last week, I am giving serious thought to leasing a local farm with 70 acres, a house, and a few barns to do some 'experimentation' on my own.

There will be no formal training track per se, as I will ship 1x-2x a week to a nearby facility for speedwork, but I will have several gallops of varying lengths and inclines, in addition to a host of other 'toys' designed to improve conditioning.

I am not a horseman, I am an equine exercise physiologist - so I will have someone else in charge of all farrier, vet, and horsemanship stuff - yet I will prescribe and monitor all training variables based on heart rate/GPS data as well as blood lactate levels, following the laws of exercise physiology.

Let's call this Feedback Based Training, where each individual athlete determines his/her own level of progress. No longer will all speedwork be regimented into half mile breezes every Thursday, for instance.

  • horses will work left hand turns and right hand turns equally to develop balance
  • horses will warm up and cool down extensively
  • training hours will be from 6am to 6pm when weather permits
  • horses will be turned out frequently, especially after racing, to speed recovery
  • nutrition will be monitored to the calorie
  • owners will be provided with all data indicating progress/development
  • as little veterinary interference as possible, unsound horses will not run/train
The horses will come from a few places; inexpensive claiming stock owned by family, younger 2 year olds from various clients here in the states, and possibly a few others from overseas.

Should be fun! - I will no doubt publish any and all findings in this space for you to review and/or comment on. I hope to be up and operational within late 2010 - should all go well.

Training in Argentina

Just got back into the US from a trip to South America for a client, what a fantastic experience! (that is me on the left in the above pic, along with local contact Juan Manuel)
We visited a few tracks and a private training center in and around Buenos Aires - with most work being at San Isidro. Early in the week was spent at an amazing farm nearly 4 hours south of the city.

Much more info to come in future posts, but for now here are some of the main differences I saw in their training programs:

  1. San Isidro had 2500 stalls and 5, yes 5 dirt training tracks, arranged in concentric circles where you can stand 10' away from a horse breezing on the rail
  2. Trackside barns are owned by the owners, no stall rent to pay.
  3. Barns are all U-shaped, where horses can see each other, and the courtyard, all day long.
  4. Horses are hand walked to swimming pool in afternoons, which is nice as it was over 100 every day last week.
  5. Grooms are in attendance 24 hours a day, different shifts of course, but always someone attending to horses.
  6. Many gallops are done in bareback fashion, near a 2 minute lick, with tack only being used on official breeze days.
  7. In general, 14 days prior to a race the horse is worked the race distance, and again 7 days before race he/she is blown out half the race distance
  8. Horses often breeze strongly an eighth or so in front of the grandstand during the post parade, roughly 10 mins before entering the gate - THIS IS MY FAVORITE PART AS THE SPLEEN IS EMPTIED AND ACTS AS A NATURAL BLOOD DOPING PERFORMANCE ENHANCER.
  9. Horses may stand in the starting gate for a few minutes before the race, this stinks in my opinion.
  10. For my client, the race rider (who is a top 10 jock), gallops and breezes as many as he can manage every morning - and is very active in providing feedback

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard Gets It-

(click above for full article)

There are no furlong markers, no bustle of horse traffic, no tractors, and certainly no official clocker. The master of this field, Jonathan Sheppard is doing things that no horseman has done before.

"I don't think Jonathan's operation is comparable to anything anywhere," said trainer Graham Motion. "His system, the way he trains on his farm, it's very different from what you would see anywhere else."