Leverage your expertise with our blog articles

Home 9 Racehorse training 9 Fitness markers: what should you look for in a racehorse?

Why should you look at heart rate data?

A racehorse’s recovery is one of the leading indicators of its state of fitness. Analysed alongside the intensity of the work required, heart rate (HR) is an excellent indicator of the intensity of the effort made by the horse and its recovery after the effort. Optimal fitness is indicated by the horse’s ability to recover after exercise.

This week, we discuss the fitness markers to be analysed. For heart rate, here are the values usually targeted:

  • HR after exercise as a % of maximum heart rate (HRmax) – 55% corresponds to an average intensity, a good balance between overtraining and under-training.
  • HR 15 minutes after exercise as a % of maximum heart rate – Target < 50%. Indicates the horse’s fitness. The lower this value, the better the horse’s fitness.

These values are guidelines, to be adjusted according to the age of the horse and the type of ground.

Below are the data for 2-year-olds during their first major workout: 

Using the reference values given above, we can conclude that the effort was very intense, as none of the 3 reached a post-training recovery of less than 55% of their maximum heart rate. However, the heart rate after 15 minutes of Mrs Arionea’s indicates a good level of fitness. She seems to be the most advanced in her training.

By monitoring heart rate, it is possible to adjust training intensity according to each horse’s individual abilities and reduce the risk of injury.

Key words: fitness markers, heart rate, indicator, recovery