Just like with people, cross-training is a good idea for any athlete. The same is true for hard-working racehorses. Training on the track is a critical part of their development, but other types of cross-training are equally as important. Here are some techniques we use at horseOlogy and the benefits of cross-training.
Stretching and Dynamic Mobilization
Like people, racehorses need to stretch their muscles before engaging in more strenuous activity. Before jogging, you likely work your leg muscles with various stretches. Or maybe you supplement your cardio with a practice like yoga. Just like these things benefit you in exercise, similar stretching benefits racehorses.
But how exactly do you get a horse to do downward dog on command? Well, some certainly will. But dynamic mobilization exercises are also known as “baited” or “carrot” exercises. You teach the horse to move their muscles rather than walk toward a treat they want or a target they’re trained to follow. This improves joint and back stabilization, enhancing overall performance, just like in a human athlete.
One of our favorite activities here at horseOlogy is swimming. We have a pool where we can train our horses in the water. Since we train in Florida, this serves two primary purposes. It’s a great additional exercise when the weather is stiflingly hot. But it also allows the horses to strengthen their muscles with an all-over body workout that provides healthy and gentle resistance.
Many people only know that swimming is used to treat an injury, but it is encouraged for all levels of equine training. Swimming can even help horses stay healthier and prevent injuries along the way. Swimming is a common practice in Europe, as they have found it is a great benefit for the horses in their training programs, as well. And, just like us, the horses find it fun.
Benefits of Cross-Training
Racehorses are athletes. Like humans, they benefit from various exercises that increase strength, mobility, and endurance. For humans, that comes in many forms. The popularity of circuit training shows that we understand how different exercises affect our bodies in diverse but complimentary ways.
Cross-training has more benefits than just physical strength. It helps psychologically, both for horses and humans. Cross-training engages our brains, provides variety, and makes us feel good. Equine athletes are no different than human athletes in this regard.
Do you want to learn more about our training techniques?