How Hard are my Lesson Horses Really Working?

How Hard are my Lesson Horses Really Working?

Nutritionists classify working horses based on maximum heart rate achieved during exercise and length of time working.

Photo: Photos.com

Q. I have school horses that do three hours of work per day, averaging between an hour of walk, an hour of trot, and an hour of canter, as well as jumping several times a week. Also, I have a dressage horse in training doing 10 hours of work per week. When considering their feed ration, do they classify as being in "heavy work" or "very heavy work"?

Shaya Basnett, via email


A. When nutritionists classify working horses, those classifications are based on maximum heart rate achieved during exercise and length of time working. Very heavy work would be considered a Thoroughbred racehorse running the Kentucky Derby or an event horse competing at an Olympic event. Although the type of work the school horses and dressage horse is doing would be considered moderate work (based on their heart rate during exercise), they are working for long hours and that will influence how we classify them. I would classify both the school horses and dressage horse as in moderate to heavy work.

About the Author

Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS

Kristen M. Janicki, a lifelong horsewoman, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences from the attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky, studying under Dr. Laurie Lawrence in the area of Equine Nutrition. Kristen began her current position as a performance horse nutritionist for Mars Horsecare, US, Inc., and Buckeye Nutrition, in 2010. Her job entails evaluating and improving the performance of the sport horse through proper nutrition.

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