What does the NBA stand to gain from the NFL’s involvement?
A recent research paper titled ‘The Impact of the Horse Challenge on Performance’ concluded that, “Forces that support a horse to perform an exercise without assistance from an animal with similar muscles use greater activation of motor units that are vital for performance and have an important effect on performance.”
The study said the “horse challenge allows athletes to work on a particular sport-specific skill and thus improve performance. Its benefits also extend beyond this sport: horses do not have the same motor capacities used during many non-racing skills and exercises, such as running, jumping, kicking, shooting or jumping.”
How does it work?
The concept is simple: the horse is placed on its back, facing a designated line, wearing an equipment that is usually not used by an animal at a similar weight. Then in a brief sprint, the athlete, with control of the horse’s feet, has to keep up a steady pace as it is forced to get down from its stance by gravity.
While the athlete gains experience, a rider also gains confidence.
According to Dr. Brian Jones, a professor of animal science at the University of California-Davis: “When you see it, for what it is you’re getting yourself out. You’re seeing a lot of people get into some pretty intense situations – a mountain run, a long run – and people have this fear of the horse. They’ve been to a lot of these races [running races] and seen that they never really feel comfortable or successful. This [horses challenge] gives you that comfort. It gives you the confidence. They’re on their own and are doing exercises and training. It’s an experience. It doesn’t put you into these situations.”
The first-ever horse challenge was held in November of 2011 and attracted more than 40,000 runners from all walks of life.
Why did the NHL pick up this great idea?
It’s a safe bet that it wasn’t something a team was thinking about, but it was an intriguing idea for a local sports franchise to consider.
“We want to ensure our athletes are healthy,” said Dave Andrews, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. “I think this is one of the ways we want to help them.”
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