English 1A: Reading and Writing
Prof. Mardy Philippian, Jr.
14 Mar 2011
The Importance of Equine Fitness
As with any athlete, the equine athlete must be fit in order to perform activities better and enjoy them more. Whatever the activity or discipline, proper fitness helps horses perform with less stress, fatigue, and injury. Many factors are involved in the fitness of horses for the different disciplines and activities they perform. As referenced in Doctors Corner, Equine Fitness, fitness can be explained in two parts, general principles and basic conditioning guidelines. Equine Fitness can be broken into five systems that adapt to physical conditioning: cardiovascular, muscular, support structures, temperature regulation and the central nervous system.
“Cardio” refers to the heart and “vascular” refers to the blood vessels that carry the blood that the heart pumps. This system can adapt quickly to a progressively increasing training program. Muscles contain cells that are necessary for burning fuel. The number of cells can actually increase with conditioning, therefore processing more fuel. Supporting structures, such as bones, tendons and ligaments, adapt and respond to training with gradual incremental increases. Temperature regulation adapts to conditioning as well, with increasing blood volume carrying more heat out of the muscles. Other parts of the thermoregulation increase the ability to sweat. The conditioning of the central nervous system comes as coordination or muscle memory. By learning the activity better, the horse will perform better, faster and more intensely with less chance of injury.
As cited in Doctor’s Corner: Equine Fitness, Pat II, fitness conditioning’s main goal is to improve the ability to perform physical tasks asked of the equine athlete. A fit foundation reduces soreness and injury and will increase confidence, concentration and desire. Myself, I have observed both fit and unfit horses... [continues]
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