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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Iver's Book Review: Part 3 Training & Nutrition

Part 3 of the book review

ti's (I found out that this is how he preferred to be referenced as) interval training revolves around the goal of performing race distances at race times before actually racing. He also notes that the horse’s body is “super adapted” to race even faster 48 hours after a maximal effort. Trainers take advantage of this and will “race” their horses to better performance, after doing the interval training so that the horse will stay sound while doing this. My Endurance take: Although it was interesting to see how he constructed his programs with the various endurance, speed, and interval stages, this is where I eyes started to glaze over. After all, I’m not going to go out and do interval training for 50 or 100 miles. Or am I? This is why most recommendations are not to race a horse for the first year of competition. We are supposed to be using the first year of endurance races as part of the interval conditioning process! Yep, a horse will hold up for a while if you race 50’s after conditioning 30-40 miles in practice – but sooner or later that horse will break down because you have not done proper interval training to complete 50 or 100 miles at that speed. Just like a Thoroughbred that has been conditioning using a “conventional” training that values the develop of speed over distance, they may win races in the beginning, but be eventually be beset by injuries – unless they are that remarkable individual with iron legs – than just think of what they might have been able to do with proper training! What ti reinforces in his book is that distance precedes speed. Go longer, than faster, than slower and longer, than faster. None of this information was necessarily new to me, but it’s something that I need reinforced over and over.

Related to the concept above is that a horse will follow your set program for a max of 2 weeks. It’s like an unwritten rule. After that two weeks, someone better be paying attention and adjusting the program because something is going to happen. My Endurance take: Yep – that sounds about right to me…..

ti stresses again and again that you must feed the horse if it is to perform well. A horse may come into training looking a bit round, but during training he should not lose that weight. Instead, that weight should start to redistribute to other parts of the horses body. For example, a horse with a bit of a belly might lose that belly and gain it in the shoulder or hindquarters. It is true that a horse that it in peak condition may look a bit lean to folks accustomed to the rolly polly recreational stock horse look that is common (at least it is in my area), but overall the horse should not give the impression that it is skinny. My Endurance take: I think that the endurance sport has figured out that horses in good condition (5-5.5) tend to do better than the greyhound look. This still varies by the individual as I think Minx did better on the thinner side when she was fit, ~4-4.5 BC. I REALLY REALLY REALLY wish I had access to a scale for Farley. The scale can be an important training tool. You can track how a horse performs in relation to weight to determine it’s optimal performance weight, you can track a horse’s recovery after a hard workout (based on weight). If you have a fancy scale that has separate panels for the front and back legs, you can track how the horse is carrying itself. If you are even MORE privileged you can have a scale with 4 panels, one for each foot. You can catch subtle sore muscles and preemptive lameness. I think that’s a bit overkill, even for me the ultimate is OCD. I’ve decided I would be happy with a 2 panel scale….which is a mute point because I don’t have ANY scale. An no, weight tapes are not sensitive enough to take these types of measurements. :)


  1. After 2 weeks, either:

    The work outs are too hard and the horse needs time at a lower level of work

    the horse gets injuried (like in the pasture) and you have to go back to square negative 2.

    The horse is progressing faster and could use tougher workouts

    Bad weather will hit, making your options nill and you will have to start over.

    there will be a death in the family and you won't be able to ride

    The horse tweaks something and needs to go back to square one

    your saddle no longer fits the horse and you have to go on the great search again......

  2. These are just from my personal experience! LOL It just seems that when you work with living animals, you constantly ahve to adjust!

    BTW - I ordered a bag of Supersupplement A formulation. I looked at the formulation for A and G and the phospherus levels are similar (I was concerned that there might be excessive levels of phospherus in the A ration if I'm only feeding 50% alfalfa) so A seems right for my 50/50 diet. The feed store sells something that looks like the same ingredients as cool calories, so I got that too. I'm going to nix the LMF gold unless I can't keep wieght on her with just the beet pulp and fat.

  3. Did I miss something? Why are you dumping LMF? Sharlene

  4. Sharlene - I'll e-mail you :) I'm not totally dumping LMF - I'm switching her over to the super supplement they have. I think it's best that horses stay on a forage based diet as much as possible, so if she'll maintain condition on hay, beetpulp, and oil, that will be best.

  5. Oh good, because I obviously forgot to look at our bag. Sigh!

  6. I have several size 1 and 0 Renegades I am going to sell. I saw that you're looking, let me know if you're interested

  7. Mel,

    I've missed something somewhere...very intrigued. What is the name of the book? Think I want to read it.


  8. Amanda - I e-mailed you.

    Endurance Granny - the book title is "The Racehorse Owner's Survival Manual". He has written several books, most of which are out of print and VERY hard to find.

    I have also read his "Bowed Tendon Book", which is also very very good.

    In general his books are a bit repititive and you have to do some reading to find the gems. ie - you can't just skim and find them, most of the most helpful tips I've found in his book have been one liners nestled between things I really didn't care about. :)

    I'll repost this comment on your blog so that I'm sure you got the info!

  9. I skimmed ti's books many years ago when I was first starting endurance (1998 or so...?) and I agree with many of Mel's endurance takeaways.

    My caveat with info in ti's books is this: because ti's research experience and focus was almost entirely with flat-track racing (TB and STB), his goal was always to produce winning flat-track racers...and that meant he was trying to produce fast horses who could compete at top levels for 2 or 3 years.

    ti often said, in his posts to ridecamp, that his research transferred directly to distance riding (he meant "distance racing"), but I don't entirely agree. In my experience, endurance riders are often more interested in soundness and longevity and winning (in that order) than in winning speeds for a season or two.

    That said, the research is totally worth reading. Thanks for the book reviews, Mel!

  10. AareneX - I totally agree with you.

    Especially the fact that I DON'T think that it is necessary (or beneficial) for an endurance horse to do a trememdous amount of speed or mileage (flat racers are doing intervals of MORE than their race distances - obviously this is NOT practical for endurance).

    I also think that endurance horses can benefit more from rest than what he describes. The programs he has, have very little rest days built into them. While I'm reconsidering my practice of doing nothing with Farley the week after a race, (because she's in a dry lot, not a pasture), her post race days will be active rest, not nearly as strenuous as the workouts described in his book as post race work outs.

    So if anyone is going out to read this book - keep what Aarene said in mind!!!! :)

  11. ti's research is very scientifically sound, and he often said in his posts to Ridecamp that it all transferred directly to endurance.

    HOWEVER, his research was almost always focused on flat-track racing (TB and STB) where the goal was to bring a horse into "fighting trim" and then peak the performance at every competition...for 2 or 3 years.

    I think that is where his research did NOT transfer directly to endurance. Not only are many endurance riders most interested in soundness and longevity and speed (in that order), but I'm not convinced that you can achieve "peak condition" for 100-milers more than once or twice per season. ti said it was totally possible by following his principles, but he never proved it by setting up the research in a long-distance environment.

    That said, his research regarding breeding, conformation and feeding is excellent and probably does transfer between sports pretty directly. But the conditioning stuff...I'm not so sure.

  12. I think that's one reason I posted more on the other aspects of his book, besides his interval programs. I just couldn't see how they would work for me (besides the overall principle of gradually increasing work yadayadayada).

    Thanks for you feedback.

  13. Several years ago, I used ti's interval training with some success - we had a 1 mile hill with 600' of elevation gain. 3x up the hill, faster every time. Definitely built some extra wind and muscle faster than regular LSD work.


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