ridecamp@endurance.net: Re: Linda's conditioning question

Re: Linda's conditioning question

Tue, 8 Apr 1997 19:02:35 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 97-04-07 22:29:36 EDT, you write:

<< This makes some sense. Do you recommend the 1-2 days rest between the
harder work days?

Yes. Again, watch body weight if you can--that seems to be the best

>Avoiding a peak means keeping the pressure on. The problem is always
>that we
>want to give the horse too much rest.>

>>Ok, as per last question. What is too much rest? I've noticed that
r>>ider/trainers who don't give enough rest (overtrain) tend to run out of
>>horse by the end of the season. (Some sooner than later). A few have
>>horses that obviously look overtrained. ie) thin, dull coat, poor
performance. But, >>most I've seen just breakdown or have chronic lameness.

Right. That's precisely what you'll see if workouts/competitions are spaced
too closely together. Instead of riding the waves of supercompensation,
you're driving the horse gradually into the ground. I'll give you an example
of too much rest: In Thoroughbred racing, if the horse races 3/4 of a mile
today, then he will do nothing but walk around the shedrow for the next three
days. then a few days of galloping a total of 1 1/2 miles per day. Then,
perhaps on the 6-7th day after the race, a little piece of speed--1/2 mile at
95% effort. Another couple days of just walking, another couple days of 1 1/2
mile slow gallops and then another race at about 14 days. That's an example
of a relatively hard working TB. Too much deadly rest.

> When we do that, then he gets
>enthusiastic and, next event, squeezes the last few drops of juice
>from the
>lemon. >

>> I have part of this problem all too often. But, what happens to me is
the horse is way over enthusiastic at the beginning of the ride. Then,
by time we find our comfortable pace, the horse's physical energy is
starting to fall be hind the mental energy. Then, we don't finish as well
as we could if we rated from the beginning. This is when not starting
with the pack and riding alone tends to pay off more. But you can't
>>always accomplish that.

Right. A lot of factors in play here. Nervous energy leading to adrenal
"dump", leading to fast metabolism and quickly rising body temps. that's why
you want as calm a professional as possible in competition.

>Thereafter, he's not so enthusiastic, no matter what we
>doo--always a
>little dull. That's peaking too early.

>>I've never had that problem. What I'd like to strive for is a little
less enthusiasm. That's why we're trying to do just multi-day's and the
>> longer one-day rides.

Do your horses ever get "washy". Nervous to the extent of shivering and
sweating profusely before doing any work?

>Then, too, we never want to ask for maximum effort--for one thing, if
>keeping the lid on with hard work, then we won't get maximal effort.
>then, maximal effort is dangerous--leads to injury. What we really
>want is a
>horse so fit that he wins everything in sight without ever coming
>close to
>having to delivering maximal effort.

>>This is so true. It is often hard not to allow maximum effort from these
fit, endurance athletes. So, many rider/trainers get into trouble here.
This is the point I was trying to make awhile back. The horse's
cardiovascular fitness is far ahead of his other systems. I think the
point that Bob Morris made about not trying to overfeed with too much
>>> energy enhancing stuffs is valid here.

Here's the law: You feed the exercise. If you're doing nothing today or
tomorrow, back off the feed. If you're going to beburning a lot of fuel, pump
'im up. That's the law. That's the way it works.

> Maybe, if you don't try to
charge them up too much early in their career, while the
slower-to-condition systems are coming up to speed, then, they won't
self-destruct before you get to optimum overall condition. The rider would
be forced to ride conservatively from the get go. The horses would
>>learn to be energy conservationists too.

Well, I run into that attitude in racehorse folk, too. The horse is woefully
underfit, undertrained and wild as a whirlwind, so the trainer's first
solution is to starve him into good behavior. It works. The horse quiets down
and becomes sensible in training. But breaks down early and/or performs
poorly. This happens so often that you can go down to the track and buy five
horses out of the claiming box and turn at least 3 of them into instant
winners just by feeding them properly. The other two will probably be

>So, yes, every competition must be integrated as a part of the
>program. And if one of those competitions is a "must win" that we have
>peak for, then demand maximal effort for, we're going to have a hot
>horse for a few weeks--as soon as the horse bounces back from this
>compeition. It would be nice if important races were clustered closely
>this time. If not, then you can gradually let the horse down for a
>week, give
>another week to ten days "off", then come on with a reasonably
>week, followed by two very aggressive weeks, followed by a medium
>taper and
>another competition--you should be back into a level of
>you can maintain for a while.
>If you're never going to have time to go through such a "rebuild",
>then you
>probably shouldn't peak until the end of the season.

.> >From talking to some of the top rider/trainers, it appears they try to
space their competitions at ~6 week intervals. Between those times they
rest, then train back to a peak level. Then try not to ask for maximal
effort unless they have too. Many do not ride any competitions between
those at 6-week intervals. There are only a few elite competitions
>> each season, so they can plan any additional competitions around those.

Six weeks is a good estimate of the time it takes to go through the final
stage of conditioning to competition. So these people have the right idea. I
think you can maintain peak performances on a 6 week cycle.

>>Some old campaigners don't ever get ridden between competitions. They
may be ponied or just turned loose to follow along while their
stablemates are trained. Often the objective is to accumulate miles so
>>they are campaigned often, but they still win their share.

Have to be careful there. Leaving it up to the horse doesn't mean he'll do
the right thing. The fact that you can do nothing between competitions and
still be competitive tells me that the competitions are nowhere near as
tough, fitness wise, as they could be. As they will be when the first
$100,000 Endurance Derby is in its 10th year. That will probably never
happen, but when it does, you'll see a whole different animal coming across
the finish line first.

>>Thanks for the answers, Tom. Your system is starting to make some sense
>>to me. This may lead to more questions later.

My pleasure. Good thinking. I'm learning more than you are.

Linda VanCeylon & crew >>

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