Perceived exertion - The Horse Forum
  • 2 Post By SteadyOn
  • 2 Post By Horsef
  • 2 Post By QtrBel
  • 2 Post By AnitaAnne
  • 1 Post By Foxhunter
  • 2 Post By Blue
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 7 Old 02-22-2020, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: CenTex
Posts: 3,136
• Horses: 1
Perceived exertion

So this is maybe a weird question. I'm not sure if the phrase "perceived exertion" is really right, but here's what I'm wondering. What contributes to a horse's perceived exertion, besides just the physical acts he is being asked to perform?

Examples: Pony used to get really pant-y with exercise, even fairly moderate exercise. He has never been one to sweat much, he would just pant and pant and pant. Even just ridden lightly at a walk and trot. However, so far with me riding him bareback, he hasn't been pant-y at all, even though we've been doing more cantering. Plus, he was being ridden regularly then, and he's just getting back into work now. I know now that his old saddle didn't fit him -- could the pain of the saddle fit have caused his perceived exertion to be greater than his actual exertion? In other words, it was more tiring to him to do less exercise, because he was in pain?

Another example: Teddy is in pretty good shape. However, when I'm trying to teach him something new, if it's hard for him to learn (and it usually is), he gets really sweaty. So I could ride him mostly at a trot for 45 minutes without asking anything much of him mentally, and he's fine. But if I ride him at a walk and trot for the same amount of time or even less, but ask him to try to learn something new at the same time, he gets really sweaty. Is the stress of having to think and move at the same time causing his perceived exertion to be greater than his actual exertion? In other words, it's more tiring for him to do the same amount of work, because he is having to think at the same time? He doesn't like learning new things because he gets stressed out thinking that he's going to get yelled at for giving the wrong answer.

If you think about yourself, or at least if I think about myself, I know that if I add some sort of mental exertion to my physical exercise, it seems more exhausting and I get tired sooner. I can also imagine that being in pain would make it seem like more exertion as well.

Is this what is happening with my horses? I always feel weird when their bodies are acting like they were working so hard, when I haven't been asking for much (physically) from them. It makes me concerned that I'm pushing them too hard.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
ACinATX is offline  
post #2 of 7 Old 02-22-2020, 05:23 PM
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,667
• Horses: 0
I have seen horses break out in some pretty intense "mental sweats" from either being anxious, or having to do a lot of thinking, during a ride! The first horse I owned (whom I smartly sold on to someone braver than I) would get DRENCHED, some rides with her, when he was having, ahh, difficulties.
AnitaAnne and ACinATX like this.
SteadyOn is online now  
post #3 of 7 Old 02-22-2020, 05:26 PM
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1,743
• Horses: 0
Yes on both, pain and mental discomfort. Adrenaline increases the heart rate and breathing speed and volume in order to get more oxygen to the muscles and the brain. I am not an expert on any of that but this part of the adrenaline function has been extensively studied and proven.
AnitaAnne and ACinATX like this.
Horsef is offline  
post #4 of 7 Old 02-22-2020, 05:30 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 11,000
• Horses: 12
One of the horses here gets drenched when ridden by upper level riders. Not so much now with the beginners but it used to be with anyone. I figure he knows what is expected and he is giving rides by rote. With the advanced he has to think.
AnitaAnne and ACinATX like this.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
QtrBel is offline  
post #5 of 7 Old 02-22-2020, 06:08 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Southeast
Posts: 9,043
• Horses: 0
Any stress, good or bad, has an effect on one's body. Too much stress can be very damaging. When an animal trusts someone, that decreases their stress (normally) and thus able to do more.

Humans, horses, dogs, we all suffer when subjected to too much stress; physical, mental or both.

I would not term the phase "perceived" exertion, it is stress.
SteadyOn and ACinATX like this.
AnitaAnne is offline  
post #6 of 7 Old 02-23-2020, 04:36 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: SW UK
Posts: 15,991
• Horses: 0
Any form of training can cause more exhaustion than plain exercise. Being made to use their brain can be tiring.

One dog I had would be more tired when I spent 30 minutes going through obedience exercise than if he had been out on a ride for three hours.
ACinATX likes this.
Foxhunter is offline  
post #7 of 7 Old 02-23-2020, 08:20 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Camp Verde, Az
Posts: 3,944
• Horses: 3
Interesting topic. I had a horse that I ended up having to sell simply because we weren't well suited for each other. He would get extremely anxious when out on the trail in a new to us area. Sometimes it can be low confidence issues. He didn't have a horrible sweating issue but I was compelled to spend a lot of money on a complete vet exam and chiro because his breathing was alarming! I thought for sure he had severe asthma or something. Nope. He had anxiety.

I feel that the pain caused by bad saddle fit can cause anxiety two fold. Simply dealing with the pain plus holding their bodies in a subtley unnatural way to move forward. If my back hurts I walk ever so slightly off which expends more energy than carrying myself straight and true. That would be perceived exertion. However, I think what you are describing with Teddy is anxiety. Learning something new is outside of his comfort zone.

If this is a problem getting him to learn something new, I would break it down and learn one tiny step at a time, adding the new step only when he's comfortable with the first one.
Beling and ACinATX like this.
Blue is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome