DR. Allan Davie from Queensland, Australia, is presently visiting South Africa as a guest of Mike de Kock, writes CHARL PRETORIUS.
A worldwide authority in the field of Equine Exercise Physiology, Davie is an Associate Professor and lecturer at the Southern Cross University, south of Australia’s Gold Coast.
Dr Allan Davie.
With research and experience in the thoroughbred industry dating back 10 years, Davie’s specific expertise lies in the field of equine exercise relating to treadmills, and he has written two books dealing with horse treadmills as a modern training aid in racing stables.
Davie has spent the last eight years developing treadmill training programmes, and with our recently installed treadmill in full operation and working effectively, Mike de Kock decided to refine his techniques by calling on the Doctor’s advice.
“The goal is to integrate my specialized treadmill training programmes with regular track work, so they work together effectively,’’ Davie says. “The gist of it is this: Every thoroughbred must do the maximum amount of work with the minimum amount of stress on the physique.’’
This is achieved by applying Davie’s set series of tested protocols, in conjunction with blood samples taken after each exercise session on the treadmill, which allows users of the treadmill to gauge the exact fitness level of horses in the stable.
A set protocol would entail, for example, three one-minute gallops on the treadmill for a specific horse, with a break in between, and a blood sample taken afterwards. The blood sample not only indicates the level of fitness of a horse. In most cases, according to Davie, it can also tell whether a horse is a sprinter or a stayer, or whether a recognized sprinter will be able to race successfully over more ground.
“Sometimes horses with niggles are being raced `out of style`,’’ asserts Davie. “By integrating the treadmill protocols with track training we are able to establish each horse’s happy medium, so he can perform at peak potential.’’
He adds: “As an additional training tool, the treadmill and its accompanying protocols can also serve to re-enforce a trainer’s beliefs in his methods, because the results are very good and consistent.’’
There is a fast and growing interest in the use of treadmills around the world, especially from the younger, modern trainers and Davie, who regularly assists the likes of David Hayes and Michael Kent in Australia, says: “The treadmill programmes are calculated in terms of variables and are proving to be very popular among the younger, educated generation of trainers, who like to take a scientific approach.’’
He says about De Kock: “Mike is not fixed in his ways, he has a great mind and is a progressive thinker.’’