Jarmilla Lakeman

Jarmila Lakeman, A-squad endurance Seniors National coach for youth squads in endurance

The Challenge

The objective assessment of the physical condition of endurance horses during training and competitions. From the past, there has been a belief that a lactate measurement in endurance horses has no added value. I wanted to experience for myself what such a measurement could yield and followed the process with sport horse El Kebir in 2017.

The Approach

Based on a lactate measurement, Dr. Carolien Munsters created a training schedule for El Kebir. A lactate measurement consists of a standardized fitness test where heart rate, speed, and lactate are measured. The landscape where I train is hilly, making difficult sometimes to distinguish between an intensive or calm training. The schedule was a guideline, with Carolien assessing each training session to determine its intensity. Based on that, she advised me on the approach for the next session.

The Insight

By riding with a heart rate monitor, I have a better understanding of how intensive certain hills or speeds are for the horses. It adds value to see if your intuition is correct and whether you can increase or decrease the intensity. I like to know during a training or competition when something is heavy for my horse, how demanding it is exactly, and when the horse should exceed such effort that it might encounter problems later in the ride. The process with Equine Integration has taught me to train better and more efficiently. Additionally, it has become clear to me the different meanings a certain heart rate value can have for several horses. Working at a heart rate of 130, for example, it is something that change for one horse to another.

The Change

Through the new insights, I have optimized the training. It turned out to be more efficient to first do a short intensive exercise and then a lighter one. I have also learned to improve a horse’s gallop by using hill training distinctly. Now, when I want to do an endurance training, I choose a relatively flat route for 2.5 hours. For a shorter intensive training, I look for a long steep hill with a proper ground.

The Result

The advice from Equine Integration has resulted in me training less but more efficiently with horses. Thanks to the lactate measurement with El Kebir in 2017, I know he can handle an intensive training or competition well. Especially during an important competition, it’s reassuring to know this. I enjoyed the process because I could still determine the content of the training myself but was supported by very valuable advice on my horse’s endurance. In the upcoming season, I will also conduct lactate measurements with the other international horses at Equine Integration, so I can determine even more specifically what the right work is for them.