A Rider's Journey
Eventing, in equestrian sport, is the ultimate equestrian challenge, comprising dressage, show jumping and cross country. This multi-phase discipline demands exceptional physical fitness and endurance from both horse and rider, whatever the level.
Fitness and conditioning programmes for event horses typically involve a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and regular schooling in each discipline.
To optimise performance and ensure the wellbeing of our horses as athletes, a growing number of trainers and riders are incorporating equine heart rate monitoring into their training routines.
This personal training diary of amateur event rider, Tamsin Drew, explores the use of an equine heart rate monitor in preparing an event horse for an upcoming competition.
Tamsin Drew is an amateur event rider competing in British Eventing Novice level aiming for CIC2* / Intermediate with her, KWPN mare Kate.
‘Isn’t It Special’ aka Kate is a 10-year-old, 16.2hh KWPN mare.
With her goal set to compete at a Novice event just three months away, Tamsin wanted to gain deeper insights into Kate’s cardiovascular performance during training. By using an equine heart rate monitor, Tamsin aimed to fine-tune the horse’s training programme, ensuring optimal conditioning, and reducing the risk of fatigue or injury.
Tamsin has been using the Enduro Equine heart rate monitor, equipped with a small sensor in the smart fabric girth wrap that’s comfortable for her horse to wear during training.
The monitor wirelessly transmits real-time data to the Enduro FIT mobile app and smartwatch, allowing Tamsin to track the horse’s heart rate, during exercise and recovery.
Along with her coach, Tamsin devised a comprehensive training plan based on Kate’s current fitness level and the event’s requirements – three equestrian disciplines all in one day.
She conducted regular training sessions, incorporating various elements such as dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. Throughout these sessions, Tamsin closely monitored Kate’s heart rate and utilised the data to adjust her training intensity and duration
Using the Heart Rate Monitor Tamsin was able to monitor the fitness of Kate out hacking, to begin to get a good idea of what Kate’s HR is when walking, trotting, hill work and short canters. Tamsin was able to monitor the heart rate post short canters and to see how quickly Kate’s heart rate decreased
Post driving to the gallops Tamsin was able to see Kate’s heart rate resting (32bpm) after tacking up and prior to getting on.
Kate is a forward-thinking horse so her HR increased to 60bpm once on and walking. For the first canter work this was at Novice BE speed but twice up the inclined gallops with walking down the full gallops. Tamsin could see that by the time they had walked down the hill, Kate’s heart rate was back to normalisation of around 80-100bpm.
Tamsin increased the speed and number of times up the gallops but didn’t return to canter work after walking until the HR was normalised.
Canter work increased out hacking plus additional trips to the gallops. This time 4 x up the gallops, once in walk, trot and slow short canters, once in slower speed full hill, then twice up the gallops in BE Intermediate / Advanced speed.
Each time coming back to walk checking Kate’s HR and how quickly she recovered.
Equipped with real-time heart rate feedback, Tamsin noticed a few significant benefits during Kate’s training programme.
She observed that by monitoring the horse’s heart rate, she could identify signs of fatigue or overexertion before they became apparent visually. This enabled her to adjust the training load, provide adequate recovery periods, and prevent potential injuries.
Compared with the previous year’s events, Kate did not incur any time penalties in the cross-country phase of the competition. She completed the course inside the allocated time with no signs of visibly tiring during the competition.
For Tamsin, the Enduro Equine Heart Rate monitor has now become an essential tool during training and preparation for competition, enhancing their overall performance and confidence this season.
By using real-time heart rate data, Tamsin, was able to fine-tune the training intensity, duration, and recovery periods, ultimately improving the horse’s cardiovascular fitness and readiness for the upcoming event.