I was asked this question when I bought my horse and was planning on hunting it 3 months after settling him into his new home.
“How are you going to get him fit?” ….. How would I get a human fit I thought. I would keep a training diary and write a regime, covering all the areas of fitness – increased endurance, increased strength, increased core work/ flexibility/ agility. I would use the heart rate as a gauge as to how fit the animal was and in what zones I was working him.
On looking into this I realised horses and humans are animals and whilst having the obvious differences they are essential muscle, fat, bones, organs and water. They need the same dietary requirements of protein, fats and carbohydrates for the same things – carbs for energy, protein/ amino acids to build muscle, water to hydrate and keep the cells and lubricated and the body juices flowing. Food sources are different obviously, we need to eat meat to get our best source of protein (although it is debatable that we possibly eat too much meat). But we can learn a lot about ourselves from our furry neighbours and we can translate on to them a lot as well. Too much starch/sugar makes us both gain weight, but can in the process make us all “fizzy”or over excited. Hyperactive children most of the time could be sorted out with diet – more vegetables and less processed food. It is very real with a horse – because they can be out of control when over excited.
So on the exercise – how do I know how puffed he is – the perceived rate of exertion with humans is about talking to the client and seeing how fatigued they are. I can look at his demeanour or how much puffing he is doing, but to really know I need a Heart Rate monitor, then I can see when he is getting anxious, when he is tired, what he looks like when he is concerned – I can learn my horse much quicker.
So I spoke to Polar, we use their equipment in the gym. They have two different types of monitor, a belt like us – but this is actually quite hard to use with a girth and saddle or even a lunge roller. So they have devised a system with just sensors which you poke under the girth, which is also tricky because of the wires. The belt is cleaner, but it bridges away from the rib cage which is not round but kind of rectangular at the underneath.
Anyway I have definitely learnt a bit from using the equipment so far and can now make my training more meaningful and more specific, the biggest thing i learnt was the flight and fight instinct of these animals – one can be walking along and all of a sudden the HR shoots up – he is in flight m
ode and ready to run from the lion!! I think our inter
retation can be interesting between a horse being excited and loving something like careering around with its friends and in fact a horse being terrified – they run when running away in a herd.
So when the Heart rate was graphed it was fascinating there were huge spikes. Anyway the point was that there are despite what people in each field would like to believe incredible similarities training a horse to training a human, in dietary requirements, not in dietary source – being that we are carnivores and horses are not, but also in exercise requirements and not in the “how” – that took some thinking – but in the need to engage the core and lift the abs and use the glutes.
All very similar.