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