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Horse Racing/Gallop training

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Question
Hello, my vet has advised me to do some gallop training with my mare in order to raise her red blood cell count.  The count is in the normal range but on the low side (11.70).  Shes a 10 year old Anglo Arab who normally does longer, slower work on mountain trails (3 hour uphill rides at walk, trot and some canter.  

Im not sure how to begin to increase the fast work (how long? how frequently?)and would appreciate some guidelines.  I have access to a long beach as well as schooling facilities, and also have a heart monitor (I used to do endurance rides).  Thanks! Julie.

Answer
Did the vet check for other health problems such as EPM, stomach ulcers,or worms? These problems could also be causing a lower red cell count. If your horse is performing and doing things as normal, I would take this reading as normal, for this horse, if there are not any underlying medical problems.

If you find that you need to increase work intensity then I would gallop at around 180 beats a minute, every 5 days if possible. This should keep the heart rate in a medium-high intensity zone. Gradually increase your distance if the horse has not exercised at this intensity recently. I would start at no more than a 1/4 mile (400 meters) for the first few weeks. Then to 1/2 mile (800 meters) at this heart rate for 2 more weeks. Follow the same pattern of distance increase up to 1 mile. You should notice a significant increase in red cell numbers in 6-8 weeks.

You can modify this exercise regiment as needed. Exercising your horse at, or just below, the aerobic/anaerobic threshold (80% max heart rate) will stimulate the body to call for more red cell production for this higher intensity exercise without risking injury at too high of speeds.

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Christopher Crocker

Expertise

All questions pertaining to thoroughbred horse racing from a trainer's perspective. All questions about thoroughbred training methods, equine biochemistry and physiology. General questions about strategies and economics of thoroughbred horse racing. I will also be pleased to answer general questions about training and caring for horses of all breeds.

Experience

I have been breaking, schooling and training thoroughbred race horses for over 17 years.

Publications
http://CrockerRacingStable.com

Education/Credentials
High school graduate 1992. Dalfort Aircraft 1994. Licensed thoroughbred horse trainer in the United States and Canada.

Awards and Honors
Track record with Chedi at Colonial Downs 2011. Multiple Stakes Placed Trainer.

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