Polar Sport Zones for horses

Finding the best training methods for your horse is essential when you want to improve your horse's performance. You can easily do it with Polar Sport Zones for horses.

Studies show that it's not only the amount of training, but above all the quality of training that matters when aiming for better results.

The way you train your horse in different target heart rate zones has an impact on your horse's health. As is true with any form of sport, basic training is good for health and physical wellbeing. But in competitive sports in particular, discipline-specific training and testing can lead to considerable results. The first step towards better performance is to figure out the right intensity of training, and with horses that can be a challenge. However, by using Polar Sport Zones for horses, you can find out the most beneficial target heart rate zone for your horse and carry out training at an intensity that makes the horse stronger, healthier and fitter. Like this, heart rate monitors make measuring aerobic capacity easy and give information of the horse's current general condition and which sport zone should be used. All this helps you create specifically tailored training plans of suitable intensity and duration.

The table below gives you details about the benefits, training recommendations, heart rate and training modes at different training zones for horses (ref. Bitschnau et al. 2013).

Sport Zones 1-5 (Intensity in % of HRmax)

Sport Zone Benefits Recommended for Heart rate How
5 MAXIMUM
90-100%
Increases maximum sprinting capacity and tunes the neuromuscular system Enhancing anaerobic capacity; only for well-preconditioned horses Maximal heart rate Fast trot/gallop - short sprints of up to 2 minutes after an appropriate warm-up in zones 1-3
4 HARD
80-90%
Builds up high-speed endurance (stamina) Developing anaerobic power for horses that compete at intensities eliciting lactate accumulation or at maximal intensities Thoroughbreds and standardbreds around 200 bpm, eventing horses around 190 bpm, endurance horses and warmbloods around 180 bpm Fast trot/gallop - up to 4-6 intervals of short durations of 2-3 minutes; the shorter the interval, the higher the intensity; appropriate warm-up in zones 1-3 and sufficient recovery between intervals are very important
3 MODERATE
70-80%
Enhances aerobic power Mainly aerobic moderate training, an essential part of training independent of the equestrian discipline or breed of horse Thoroughbreds and standardbreds between 160-190 bpm, eventing horses between 160-170 bpm, endurance horses and warmbloods between 150-160 bpm Canter - may consist of intervals followed by recovery periods; trotting in this zone is especially effective for improving endurance, blood circulatory capacity of the heart and skeletal muscles
2 LIGHT
60-70%
Improves basic endurance, increases the metabolism and strengthens the body so that the horse can tolerate higher intensity training Aerobic endurance training, an essential part of training independent of the equestrian discipline or breed of horse Thoroughbreds, standardbreds and eventing horses up to about 160 bpm, endurance horses and warmbloods up to about 150 bpm Walk, trot and slow canter - training of 40-80 minutes duration
1 VERY LIGHT
30-60%
Improves overall health and promotes active recovery Recovery training, rehabilitation, warm-up and active recovery from more strenuous training sessions, an essential part of training independent of the equestrian discipline or breed of horse All breeds and disciplines up to about 140 beats per minute (bpm) Walk and trot - recovery training for a total of 40-80 minutes duration or an initial warm-up followed by an active recovery exercise of about 30 minutes

Here's a brief summary of the Polar Sport Zones for horses according to equestrian disciplines:

Racing horses Eventing horses Endurance horses Jumping and Dressage horses
MAXIMUM
90-100%
HRmax HRmax HRmax HRmax
HARD
80-90%
around 200 bpm around 190 bpm around 180 bpm around 180 bpm
MODERATE
70-80%
160-190 bpm 160-170 bpm 150-160 bpm 150-160 bpm
LIGHT
60-70%
140-160 bpm 140-160 bpm 140-150 bpm 140-150 bpm
VERY LIGHT
30-60%
Up to 140 bpm Up to 140 bpm Up to 140 bpm Up to 140 bpm

The way heart rate responds to exercise intensity depends on various factors such as fitness and recovery levels as well as environment. It's extremely important that you're alert and keep an eye on how your horse is coping with the strain, and then adjust the training program accordingly.