If I experience fatigue during light seat canter position, what shall I change?

And if I experience fatigue from daily physical activities or exercising a lot of different horses, what can I practically do to improve my situation?

Your fatigue resilience threshold is individual to you. It will be influenced by your current aerobic capacity, the level of your riding experience, your ability to handle environmental factors like heat, sweat, distractions on the ground etc, the condition of your muscle fibres themselves as well as your lifestyle demands. During lockdown one area you can work on to improve your fatigue resilience threshold, is your cardiovascular (aerobic) capacity.

FACT: An untrained person whose aerobic capacity is low, will experience fatigue to a greater degree (deterioration of riding technique/ performance or basic daily functions, e.g. walking, lifting and carrying) than the trained person. As we know, elite riders display less variability in heart rate because they have developed a cardiovascular training effect.

Resting Heart Rate can provide guidelines to help determine where you may be on a cardiovascular level.

  • Low fitness level: Resting HR 80 beats per minute (bpm)
  • Average fitness level: Resting HR 60-80 bpm
  • High fitness level: Resting HR sess than 60 bpm

Resting heart rate is best taken while you are seated or lying down. Find your pulse on your wrist, and using your index and middle finger, count how many beats you feel in 15 seconds and multiply it by 4 to approximate the beats per minute.


So how do you create a “cardiovascular training effect”? Essentially it’s about manipulating fatigue-inducing-activities so you stimulate the recovery response in the body. It’s the adaptation your body makes whilst recovering that creates a “training effect.”  Your cardio (aerobic) exercise needs to produce enough fatigue to warrant recovery.

So in a sense fatigue is not all bad. However, there is a big difference in training for improvement and just getting a long list of activities done, then feeling tired. Training is not just activity for activities sake, it’s training for adaptation that counts.

The two biggest problems we find to improving aerobic capacity, is either folks are not training enough to create a training effect (could be lack of consistency as well as not working in the correct zone) or they are training too hard, creating a negative training response.

To avoid this you can measure your efforts by:

  1. Being aware of your heart rate zone and “go by feel” using the ERB perceived heart rate chart – download below
  2. Use a device with a heart rate monitor so you know exactly which HR zone you are working in, and the time spent in this zone.

So how do you work out your zones?

First work out your maximum aerobic Heart Rate using the following formula.

Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) 180 Formula

To find your maximum aerobic training heart rate, there are two important steps.

  1. Subtract your age from 180.
  2. Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile:
  3. a)  If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.
  4. b)  If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
  5. c)  If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems in (a) and (b), keep the number (180–age) the same.
  6. d)  If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems in (a) and (b), and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

Here’s an example of how to find all four of your functional training zones using the 180 Formula

Zone 1: recovery / easy, anything below MAF-10bpm

Zone 2: Aerobic threshold, MAF -10bpm up to MAF

Zone 3: Tempo / marathon-1/2 marathon pace, MAF up to MAF + 15bpm

Zone 4: Hard, anything above MAF +15bpm


As a rule of thumb, you want to spend 80% of your training volume in Zone 2 each week, this we know as the 80/20 principle.

Deliberately and consistently exposing your body to these training zones helps you increase your fatigue resilience threshold.

Cardio training can help you not only improve your competition edge, it can help you participate for a long time.

Elevated resting heart rates between 60-80 BPM are what define one out of three New Zealanders suffering preventable heart disease.

All this, means lock down might be just the opportunity you need to improve your cardio vascular function before next season.


And to start is as simple as softly adapting your heart rate.


 You may even enjoy placing one of the images in this post as a screenshot on your device for added motivation this week.

Next week, we will look at other ways to specifically enhance your rider training for Show Jumping

From the desk of EVENT READY BODIES 

To ask a question about your rider training during lock down, contact [email protected] or +64 6 356 1494


ESNZ Jumping Team

24 April 2020