Elite athletes are always looking for an edge over their competitors, and many times they find that edge by applying the science of exercise physiology to their training. From energy metabolism to the kinetics of joint movement, exercise physiology is geared toward optimizing performance, shortening recovery time, and improving fitness.

 While it’s easy to get lost in the literally thousands of books and scientific articles on this subject of exercise physiology, here are 10 basic principles that you can apply to your everyday training regime to boost your horse’s performance to the next level.

The first five are general theories that serve as the framework of all good training plans, while the last five are more scientific principles that will help you understand how your horse’s body responds during and after exercise.

As always, these principles only apply to healthy horses in good body condition, and it is recommended that you consult your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program.

1. A physiological system will adapt to stress by making itself more resistant to future stresses (the "Overload Theory").

The body sees exercise as a stressor, in that it’s something that requires more work than usual. Each time your horse exercises, his body adapts a little bit more, until the exercise becomes "normal" and ceases to be a stressor. While this might sound like a simple concept, the body will adapt in very specific ways to stressors of different types, frequencies, and intensities.

The key to using the overload principle to your advantage is to determin