Q&A With Per Eriksson
RCS. How many Pro Trainers do you own?
PE. “We have 5 Pro Trainers and 25 to 30 horses in our stable. Right now we have 11 horses working with the Pro Trainer.”
RCS. How do you mix speed work with Pro Trainer?
PE. “All of my work with the Pro Trainer is walking. Normally we work 5 days a week. If the horse is sound we will do speed work 2 days a week and Pro Trainer 3. If the horse has issues we will do 4 days Pro Trainer and one day speed work. I like double headers for speed and we’ll walk with the PT starting with ½ hour up to 100 pounds of pressure. We’ll add 5 minutes a week to get up to an hour. Of course each horse is unique. Prakas for example did very little speed work other than race, he had very sore knees, so it was all walking with the Pro Trainer we were up to 1 ½ hours in the morning and 1 ½ in he afternoon.
RCS. Do you interval train with the Pro Trainer.
PE. “No, we do intervals but not with the ProTrainer. All of our ProTrainer work is walking. I have tried to interval train with the PT but did not like the results. It seems to build to much slow muscles. It may work better with bigger horses. Talk to Trond Smedshammer, I think he does intervals with the Pro Trainer. He built Windsong’s Legacy that way.
RCS. Do you use any special food depending on work load?
PE. “I feed Groove plus which has high fat to young horses then as we turn up the work dial I switch to Sport which has less fat and more protein.”
RCS. Do you use the Pro Trainer with all your horses?
PE. “We try it with all horses except if one is sickle hocked where we’ll just waste our time. Some horses, only a few, don’t relate too well. Those few will hold their head high and look like they are walking on their toes and they are fighting it. They may get sore high up behind the withers on both sides of the spine.
I’m really happy when a horse drops its head and really works the hind end. If they do it right, sometimes they look like a draft horse pulling a load. When the horse responds that way with the Pro Trainer we will get excellent results.
RCS. Do you use the Pro Trainer with 2 year olds?
PE. “Yes, but between their 2 and 3 season. After the 2 yo season we’ll give a month off then start working the horse for the 3 year old season. I do not use the PT before the 2 yo season as we are too busy just getting the horse to move correctly, we build the body between 2 and 3.
Note…Per does not see an equine exercise physiological reason not to start earlier it’s just his operation that dictates starting after the 2yo season. “I would like to start earlier but generally we’ll start with the PT in the fall of the 2 year season.”
RCS. What are some of the different exercise techniques you use with the Pro Trainer and what are your goals?
PE. Again, I have my program and it works to my satisfaction. No doubt as you talk to other trainers you will find more success stories and other methodology. Stig Johannson for example used the PT on some pacers and was very successful. I would talk to Rijo??? his second trainer about that. Trond does some interesting things with intervals.
Joe, the bottom line is there is no absolute best way, each horse is different and each trainer can create and implement his or her own program. I know what has works for me and I’m not so interested in changing or experimenting.”
RCS. At what point do you stop using the PT?
PE. I don’t stop using it. I may reduce the amount of time I use it but my horses tell me when, why, how and how much. It depends on the horse and what we feel are its needs. If we need to punch up the strength a bit at any time, we’ll walk with resistance. It works.
RCS. In the USA you were among the absolute best trainers ever. You won the Hambo three times, the Hambletonian Oaks once and Credit Winner was 2nd by a nose in the 2001 Hambletonian. Also you were knocking on the door to winning a Little Brown Jug with Scotch on the Rocks and Vodka On The Rocks. Now that you’re back home in Sweden, you are still very successful, but not winning as often in the top races. Why is that? Did you use the Pro Trainer with all the above mentioned horses?
PE. Absolutely the Pro Trainer was a primary tool building those horses including the Pacers. In the States I was unique. I believed in the tool and discovered some ways to make it work for me and my horses. Over here, there are thousands of PTs and just as many good trainers both full time and part time (amateurs) so the methods are not unique.
Another big reason is that my operation and focus is different here than when I was back in the states. The reason I came home to Sweden was for my family. I want to spend time with my wife Tina raising our kids. My brother, mother and father live just up the road. For me it is family first. Playing at the Hambo level, here or in the states, is not rocket science, but it is work. Hard and focused work is how you can make your luck. I’ve been there, done that and got the tee shirts. Now my life is different and I love it!
RCS. Any other ideas you care to share with our clients and perspective clients?
PE. "Sure, Out of 25 horses, I have presently 11 on the Pro Trainer. The others will probably get to the races, but based on my experience the PT does not fit. This is a great tool for horses with front issues, bowed tendons, bad feet or knees. I just walk, walk and more walk and train as needed, I like double headers." "I use the Pro Trainer with my heart and my head. It takes a bit of extra time but I have always gotten good results. Generally I did not have great horses. I just worked my ass off. It is all about patience and persistence."
RCS. Do you use the Pro Trainer more in a particular time of the year?
PE. We use it year round depending on the horse and its needs but we focus primarily on the winter months with the PT. Again, I see real value with a heavy emphasis between the 2 and 3 year old seasons. This is where we build the strength, and believe me we can build monsters.
RCS. Thank you per. Any message you want to send back to the states?
PE. You're welcome Joe. Sure tell everyone I think of them all the time. Tina and I miss our life and friends over there but we're doing well here and this is now home again.
A resistance conditioning tool in the hands of the wise horse person is very, very powerful and may be unlimited as to ways to make it fit any operation and virtually any horse. For sure 'thinking outside the box' is appropriate. Creating new methodology will garner new successes us as we move forward.