So we all know for ourselves the importance of cross training to ensure our bodies can cope with the stresses and strains of exercise so why not roll this out to our horses during training?. Top class athletes use this method for ensuring bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are fit for purpose with the aim of strengthening these structures and enhancing athletic performance. Recent studies have identified what different types of surface can do to the musculature of the horse read at www.thehorse.com
The study identifies the forces that impact the legs of the racehorse are higher and the extension of the fetlock is greater on ‘dirt surfaces’ than on ‘synthetic surfaces’ finding that racehorse injuries correlates with surface type with dirt being more of a risk factor than synthetic surfaces. This however is not just a problem for the racehorse but also for the dressage horse too as discovered by researchers at the University of California’s veterinary orthopaedic research laboratory.
The research identifies the most common injury in dressage horses as being injuries of the Suspensory ligament which plays a vital role in supporting the structures of the lower leg during weight-bearing. Dr Stover Professor of Anatomy, Physiology and cell biology at UC Davis University stated that many factors impact fetlock motion and suspensory elongation including the hoof-ground reaction force (or the GRF for short) meaning that an increased GRF increases force on these structures extending the suspensory ligament further. With the structure of the arenas surface and associated characteristics affecting the GRF.
The main findings during research with the dressage horses indicated that “surface properties have the potential to risk injury to the suspensory ligament” (Dr Stover). So would cross training at the beginning help to reduce this risk?
What does Cross-Training do?
Injury prevention– helps to spread the cumulative level of orthopaedic stress over a larger area of muscles and joints. In doing this the effects include training for longer without overloading important and vulnerable structures.
Improves fitness Increase strength and aerobic fitness to a higher level
Cross training can also :
Increase musculoskeletal strength and cardio fitness –train longer and improve muscles capability
Reduce boredom Increased willingness
rejuvenate mind and body Shakes the regular routine up and exposing your horse to different situations improving the horses reaction to novel environments.
So as you can see there are a number of potential benefits of cross training your horse for its fitness and well-being. By introducing your horse to many different types of surfaces and environments gradually you should in theory help to minimise the possible occurrence of injury in the horse. Not only do you have a horse fit for purpose but also a happy horse who can deal with different situations without over-reacting and help to reduce long-term damage to your equine athlete.
There is so much more on this topic which I recommend so please check out www.kppusa.com for more on this interesting and valuable subject.
Please comment you know I love to hear your experiences.