Every winter trainers welcome a new generation of athletes into their stables. These horses are broken in, pre-trained and ready to start their career and to start racing. This first period of work is crucial for the horse’s career and many questions arise: how to monitor the evolution of these two years? How to gradually increase the workload by reaching a happy medium between over-training and under-training? Which 2 y.o. are the most advanced of them all? How to detect future performers? Over what distance to start? A longitudinal follow-up of the training data of young horses allows to support the trainers’ feelings and to feed their decisions with objective figures.
What is longitudinal tracking? In order to analyse the evolution of a horse, Arioneo’s data analysts recommend monitoring all trainings during the first month of a horse’s follow-up, then only its harder works during the following months. Indeed, during the first month, the figures collected will serve as a reference for the coming months in order to analyse the progress made. In the following months, the trainer can look at the training data, always keeping in mind the data from that first month.
According to the methods of each trainer, these reference data can vary, depending on the nature of the questions (speed, fitness, locomotion…).
Example of parameters to be included in a “reference data” grid:
- HR max
- HR during canter, during warm-up
- Best 600m
- Best 200m
- Stride length and stride frequency at 45-50 km/h
- Speed at 45-50 km/h or more
In the following months, once the horse’s reference data has been established, analysis of the data can focus only on the harder works. After each training session, the trainer can start by studying the key training parameters, keeping the reference data grid next to it. To obtain a longitudinal view of the key parameters, the comparison tool allows the selection of the horse’s latest trainings and thus superimposes the parameters in order to compare them.
To go further in the analysis and refine the parameters to be compared from one workout to another, Equimetre Pro clients can use the Analytics tool, which is a grid grouping the workouts linked to the account line by line, allowing them to filter by horse, by date, by type of work, and classify the workouts according to a chosen parameter (date, best 600m, best stride length at 45-50 km/h for example).
Individualise the training of 2 years old and monitor their health
This method of longitudinal tracking is therefore a good way of adapting training to each horse, while monitoring their health.
Each young horse can cope with the increased workload in its own way and therefore the ideal is to individualise the training schedule when possible. In this way the risks of over and undertraining can be avoided. How can Equimetre’s data help to balance the gradual increase in workload?
It is the analysis of the recovery that can allow the trainer to judge the assimilation of the day’s work in order to adapt the next session. To analyse the recovery, 4 zones in the review of the evolution of the heart rate during work can be useful :
– Heart rate (HR) when leaving the stable: this HR serves as a reference for the analysis of HR during the rest of the effort, it is the first recorded by Equimetre. It is specific to each horse and does not give any indication of its level of fitness.
– Heart rate during the warm-up period: the heart rate should stabilise and then drop slightly when the horse is warmed up and ready to support a more consequent effort. If you notice abnormally high heart rates when the horse appears calm, this may be a sign of pain manifested by an unexplained increase in heart rate. In this case, a veterinary opinion may be necessary to remove any doubt and start working with peace of mind.
– Heart rate during training: a fit horse will show a constant increase in heart rate throughout the work which will immediately fall when speed does. When the heart rate gets flat during exercise after reaching the maximum HR, it is a sign that the effort required of the horse is very high and that it must mobilise the maximum of its respiratory capacity. During this period when the heart rate peaks, the horse stores oxygen debts and it is observed that the heart rate persists at high levels even after the speed is reduced, in order to compensate for the lack of oxygen caused by the intense effort.
– Recovery: Immediately after the effort, the heart rate stabilises at a first level, which is the recovery after the effort. In a second time, it decreases again and at 15 minutes, we can analyse the recovery after 15 minutes. The lower the latter, the better the recovery, an ideal recovery being a return to the initial heart rate after 15 minutes. When the horse struggles to return to a low heart rate, it is a sign that the work has been very intense for him and that this stage has not yet been perfectly assimilated. It will therefore be interesting to allow a period of recovery (light work unloaded the next day, then a rest day) and then repeat the exercise to improve recovery before moving on to a higher workload.
Analysing locomotor parameters when deciding the distance for the first race
When it comes to the distance over which a horse should start, data on the horse’s locomotor profile can provide objective support when making decisions.
Each horse has a unique stride length / stride frequency combination that determines its locomotor profile. To accelerate, some will rather increase their amplitude, others their cadence. Each horse will therefore have its own acceleration strategy: understanding it allows to support a decision with objective data and to look at the choice of distance from a new angle. Indeed, depending on locomotor profiles and acceleration strategies, certain characteristics are specific to sprinter, miler or stayer profiles.
To go further on these locomotor topics, you can access this resource which explains in detail the analysis of the locomotor profile of the racehorse.
Thus, longitudinal tracking of young horses from their entry into training is a good way to obtain tangible data on their progress. This data then provides objective support for decision-making and supports the trainer’s perception of the fitness of the two-year-olds. Followed throughout its career, a horse will have a life book of its career, and this set of data can be used again as a reference when welcoming the next generations.
Keywords: young horses, first race, two years old, training, monitoring, longitudinal tracking, health