Equine endurance race pacing strategy and performance in 160 km single-day races

David Marlin (Speaker), Williams, J. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation at Conference

Description

Race pace strategy has been studied extensively in human endurance sports, however the impact of pacing strategies in equestrian sport has not been widely investigated. This study analysed electronically-timed FEI 160 km (singleday) CEI*** endurance races across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, from 2011-2017. Retrospective competition records for 805 horses in 36 races, each consisting of 5 phases (loops), were evaluated; 52% (n=416) of horses completed the races analysed, with the remaining 48% (n=387) not finishing. Horses failed to complete due to gait abnormalities (n=231; 60%; 68% loops, 2, 3&4), metabolic problems (15%; n=57; 65% loops 3&4) or being retired on the course (13%; n=51; 75% loops 2,3&4). Average speed between finishers and non-finishers didn’t differ (P>0.05) across the duration of the race, however, pacing strategies varied significantly from loop 2 to the finish (P<0.01) with finishers adopting a more consistent approach, 4.1% variance compared to 8%. Further analysis of completing horses (n=403) investigated if speed and pacing strategy differed between the top 3 horses and those in lower placings. Loop speed was increased for horses placed in the top 3 for all loops (P<0.02) except loop 5 (P>0.05), these horses also recorded 6.6% higher average speeds across the race (P<0.0001) compared to the other finishers. Horses in the top three also adopted more consistent pacing strategies, 3.2% variance compared to 5.8%. Multiple factors influence performance, but these results suggest consistent pacing strategies may be a successful mechanism to increase the chance of completion and success in endurance race.
PeriodNov 2018
Held at10th International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology
Event typeConference
LocationLorne, Australia, Victoria