DescriptionRace 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.
|Event title||10th International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology|
|Location||Lorne, Australia, Victoria|