Ans van der Velden

Ans van der Velden
Class 4 combined driving, single harness

Sport horse Caesar (11 years old) Goal: World Championships in combined driving Single Harness Horst (2018)

The Challenge

Improving the condition of my horse Caesar in preparation for the World Championships in Single Harness Combined Driving (marathon discipline) in 2018. My goal was to gradually and responsibly build up his condition so that Caesar could peak at the right moments during the World Combined Driving Championships (dressage, cones, and marathon).

The Approach

In 2016, I contacted Equine Integration. The first step was to conduct a fitness test and lactate measurement. Based on the results, Dr. Carolien Munsters created a training program. Together, we looked at a suitable program that aligned well with the planned competitions. Based on interim analyses, we adjusted the training sessions as needed. For example, we included bi-weekly cones training in the analyses because we noticed that Caesar didn’t distribute his efforts well. He peaked in the middle but lacked the condition to finish the cones course at the end.

The Insight

By training with a heart rate monitor, I gained more insight into Caesar’s capabilities. Carolien showed me the power of measuring and analyzing the heart rate of your sport horse. Now, I know exactly which heart rate to maintain so that Caesar can perform at the right level from start to finish. Additionally, the measurements provide insight into the fitness of your horse. When Caesar was less fit, we could immediately see that and adjust the training. The measurements taught me to objectify my intuition. Also, the estimations revealed that Caesar peaked between obstacles but was tired at the end. During training, we looked at how we could improve this both physically and mentally so that he could distribute his efforts better in the marathon. Since the World Championships took place in the summer months, we paid a lot of attention to heat regulation. By closely monitoring Caesar, we were able to prevent unnecessary risks of injuries or overloading.

The Result

Caesar’s condition has been optimized. He can now easily complete a marathon at the highest level. I am very satisfied with the results achieved. Without any assessment and practical advice from Carolien, this would not have been possible. Additionally, I learned a lot about cooling down your horse after a training session or competition. By also conducting measurements during these times, you know how your horse handles heat and how to anticipate this on warm competition days. After the World Championships, I continued to use the heart rate monitor during training because it provides many insights into the physical and mental capabilities of my horse.