The Jurga Report
A few weeks ago, I was bemoaning the absence of horses from the landscape of British Columbia during the otherwise-no-complaints 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The more I watched the Olympics, the more I wondered about how the athletes trained during the off (non-snow) season, and how they avoided overtraining.
How do those speed skaters and cross-country skiiers and snowboarders know when to stop training? How fit is too fit? And what about the athletes who do burnout? It reminded me of what we go through with sport horses and racehorses that are now year-round athletes; the calendars used to allow them a season off, but not anymore.
Are there parallels between horse and human athletes? To my surprise (and delight), I came across some recent research that suggests that future Olympic athletes may have some thanks to offer to our equine friends.
There is a science of training, as any racing, endurance or eventing trainer will tell you, that involves deciding when each horse in your care will peak based on a given training program, and adjusting that training program to fit the calendar for a given competition, as well as changes in terrain, footing, altitude, weather and the horse's mental state because of shipping, breeding or other interruptions.