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Re: a nickel tour of gait biomechanics

Susan wrote:
Anyway, one of the other things that he found out is that this preferred speed within gaits doesn't just apply to horses, but to almost all of the quadraped species
One thing of note is that you can have an effect ont he animals preferred speed by using the training regime and terrain. When we were training sled dogs we started the season with heavy loads for strength training and as snow flew we lightened the load to increase their speed. Since the dogs must run at their desired speed (the driver has very little control to influence it) you must train for the speed. We are in the hilly NE, in order to get the maximum speed the dogs were capable of, we'd have to sped time in the flatlands (we would go to MN) doing speed work and those drivers that race in Alaska say that it takes about 10 days of training up there to stretch the muscles to a faster pace. Of course this is all based on having a fit animal to begin with.
I can relate this to my horse now. All winter we do dressage work for strength. Come spring, my horse's body has changed significantly and he's slow. Strong but slow. It then takes awhile in the spring to stretch out to forward rather than up in the gaits and from here comes more speed. Photos of him at spring rides vs. the fall ones confirm the actual change in the body. By the time of the GMHA 100, he is quite fast. But, bring him in to do dressage work right after the 100 and the strength required to do shoulder in or passage well is not there. So, I see that the comfortable gaits those in which the animal can travel all day at low heartrate will vary due to training and  trail conditions and the work required of him.
Dolores Arste
Authority without domination, Love without subservience, Respect without fear

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