Thursday, April 7, 2011

Race Horse Fitness

This blog is starting to pick up steam
in terms of readership; but unless
you've read my first blog, you might
still misunderstand what I mean by
"Forget Fitness." In a nutshell, the
blog name refers to the fact that the
word FITNESS connotes aesthetics
and sexual appeal over health,
wellness or athletic performance.

To re-emphasize the concept, let's
look at the "physical appropriateness"
of race horses.

The following is from Texas A&M
University Department of Animal
Science, Equine Sciences Program
for the development of race horses:

"The conditioning program for the
different horses varies depending on
the race length. Genetics, training,
age, and skeletal soundness are all
factors that contribute to a horse’s
performance. The muscle structure
and fiber type of horses depends on
the breed, therefore genetics must be
considered when constructing a
conditioning plan. A horse’s fitness
plan must be coordinated properly
in order to prevent injury or
unnecessary lameness. If these were
to occur, they may negatively affect
a horse’s willingness to learn.
Sprinting exercises are appropriate
for training two-year-old racehorses,
but they are mentally incapable of
handling too many of them. A horse’s
skeletal system adapts to the exercise
they are receiving. Because the
skeletal system does not reach full
maturity until the horse is at least four
years of age, young racehorses often
suffer multiple injuries."

discusses how race horses with a
"fat score" of 5 generally perform
A fat score of 9 means the horse
is obese. A fat score of 1 means the
horse is emaciated. At a fat score of 5,
the horse is round and smooth; and
at score 6, it's considered "moderately
fleshy" (also a high-performance score).

(Texas A&M excerpt)
"Results indicate that a body condition
score of 5 appears to be the most
desirable for contributing to maximum
performance. Horses in condition 
score 5 are able to store more usable
energy than horses in thinner condition.
The thinner horses are more prone to
early fatigue because they have to rely
almost entirely on that energy that is
derived from the daily diet."

So this is what an ideal horse looks like

This horse is considered "thin"

This horse is dead--