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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

January 24, 2011

A Link Request: On Muscle Tone


I am in search of links that deal with improving muscle tone.  Have read all the "don't feed grain on the off work days" bit.   What I am looking for are some articles that talk about it from a metabolic view point.  Phebe's post ride urine on LD's #2, 3, and 4 was a nice yellow mare color.  At the end of the ride she really tanked up on water, though not so well during the ride this very last time, but we had very limited water sources out on trail, in fact just one water tank, so if you got a refusal to drink that was it.  I'm trying to sort out what the exact culprit is...I'm all about fixing it if I can can unravel what "it" is before the start of our ride season. 

Here is the issue:  She has scored "B" on muscle tone the past three LD's.  She never acts crampy, she has A's on gait, and impulsion.  Where I perceive she is "tight" is what in human terms would be the hamstring, that posterior curvature of the leg, that muscle seems tight.  She gives nasty mare ears at the vet, and he scores her down.  Granted, she gives nasty mare ears to him for a lot of things, but he knows her history so he looks at her really hard (and I'm glad for that as he missed that she was tying up because she did not show the classic symptoms other than urine change which I caught myself thank God).  Since that time we've persisted with "B" scores there, and of course it scares the crap out of me because what happened the other time when we had a "B" and then a "B-" score.

Now I'm totally able to let go of what happened two years ago.  I really am.  If I know I've made the correct changes, and I know how to make her score better, I'll feel that I'm managing her care better.  Here is what we've tried in the past on the advice of experienced endurance riders.

The addition of electrolytes.  I'm still in the tweaking phase of this to find what works without being upsetting, and think I know how I'm going to change how we give them next year.  It will be more aggravating than giving one or two syringes, but I'm going to dilute her electrolytes with water and give mini-doses, rather than two half doses. 

The addition of Magnesium supplement. (per ride vet)

The addition of Vitamin E & Selenium supplements in a yeast base.  (per ride vet)

Slowing down her pace considerably. (per me, as that is what I wanted, but took time to get).

Walking the downhills.  I don't like to trot downhills.  Period.

I've given a winter's worth of thought to this situation and the conclusion my gut gives me is it is the magnitude of the hills on the course we've ridden.  Phebes has never competed anywhere but the Clark State Forest where you are going up, or down, for probably 20 + of the 25-30 miles.  I live far enough east of there that our hills are virtually "mole hills" in comparison.  We do hill train alot, but an hour on our hills, does not in anyway equate to the effort involved at Clark.  Is it reasonable to assume that this is why she is tightening up a little on the topline of her rump, those "should be" jiggly muscles in the thigh, and especially that hamstring area that has to reach and motor us up and down the hills?

So say it is the hilly course that is the culprit.  Should I focus specifically on hills rep's  on our non-LSD days rather than training on the flats?  How gradual to begin, and where to let off in a session that enough is enough, so not to tighten up those muscles to the level of soreness or create the very issue that I want to correct?

Steep hills?  Long hills?  Trot the hills?  Canter the hills?

Does walking downhills effectively stretch out those hamstrings, or is it the uphills that will give us the stretch?

If you have links on improving muscle tone I'd sure like them.


1 comment:

  1. In the interest of "working with what ya got", I recommend doing hill work as much as possible at a *medium* speed
    doing as much dressage work as possible so that she learns to carry herself correctly. Dressage can make her stronger for hills while working on the flat--and between lessons you can practice the dressage exercises on flat bits of trail!