Wednesday, December 4, 2019

"An extremely thought provoking course with copious academic material to reinforce good training practice."

This was was just one of the many positive comments received from delegates following the inaugural BEVA Elite Performance Horse Discussion Forum, which took place at Rossdales Equine Hospital on 22nd November. This new course, the first of its kind, brought together international experts from the fields of sports physiology and training, in both human and equine elite sport. The course was fully booked well in advance and saw experienced and enthusiastic equine vets attend from throughout the UK.

Throughout the day, leading researchers, practitioners, trainers and competitors openly discussed the challenges encountered in training elite equine and human athletes, and how lessons learned in both fields may help progress our understanding and achieve safer and more successful methods of training.

In the morning sessions, Dr Ulrich Hartmann (Head of the Institute of Sports and Exercise Science, University of Leipzig) and Dr Allan Davie (Founder of Australian Equine Racing and Research Centre) gave presentations on how to train for optimum performance, and how to train for injury prevention, discussing and comparing the latest techniques in use for equine and human athletes. The value of high volume, low intensity training was emphasised, and there was an interesting debate on the value of of hypoxic training in racehorses.

Dr Carol Austin (formerly Head of Performance Support & Medical at Team Dimension Data pro cycling team ), Fernando Perez de Villar (racing vet at Baker McVeigh), Andy Bathe (orthopaedic specialist at Rossdales), Chris Bartle (Dressage Olympian and Performance Coach to the British Three-Day Eventing Team) and Richard Davison (four-time Dressage Olympian) then took part in an open discussion on finding the balance between performance and injury prevention. Discussions were honest, insightful and provided a novel opportunity to explore the different methods and decisions that leaders in these various fields are employing and facing in their work on a daily basis.

During the afternoon, Carol, Fernando and Andy shared their respective wealth of experience in managing the elite human athlete, elite racehorse and elite sports horse. An open discussion of both the scientific and ethical elements associated with managing these athletes at the top levels of training and competition then followed. Interestingly, all emphasis was on the importance of prevention rather than cure.

BEVA thanked the speakers for travelling from throughout UK and around the world to make this event such a success; Andy Bathe for coordinating the topics discussed/scientific programme; Rossdales for hosting and warmly welcoming all those who attended; and Dechra, the Horserace Betting Levy BoardIMV Imaging and Vestaplas for their generous support. In return, Rossdales' Lucy Grieve was thanked for organising the course.

Planning has already started for next year's event!

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