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Heart rate monitoring for the endurance horse

Team GB Endurance rider, Nicki Thorne, shares her tips on training the endurance horse using the Enduro Equine Fitness Tracker. 

Using a heart rate monitor for endurance training

As an endurance rider, monitoring the heart rates of your horses is an essential part of the sport. 

Having access to heart rate data is absolutely crucial because you need to know what level of fitness your horse has, and you need to know how your training is going based on your training plan.  At the start of the season, take your aspirational ride date and work backwards from that date to map out the time plan of your training programme.

If you don’t know how fit your horse is, you won’t really know how to ride that horse in that race.  Using a heart rate monitor to understand your horse’s heart rate really determines whether your horse is fit enough to achieve the competition that you are aiming for.

Monitoring your horses heart rate in training can help determine whether the horse is fit enough to go round very gently and that may be exactly what you’re doing with a young or inexperienced horse or with an advanced horse like my horse Mousey, who was aiming for the European Championships.   I knew if I wanted to race her and she is extremely difficult to get fit and train, I needed to be absolutely certain that she was as fit as I could possibly get her to go which is why the heart rate data is crucial to your training plan.

 

What can my horse's heart rate data tell me?

Collecting heart rate data is absolutely critical to what we are doing as endurance riders, because if you don’t know your horse’s heart rate in any given circumstance you can’t really foretell how things will be on the day of your ride or competition.

You will always have elements in competition that will change, the horses will be more excited, things may go wrong, there will be a lot of stuff happening around you that doesn’t happen in your home environment so you need to know what your home base is and what your fitness base is so you can judge how much above that is purely excitement, adrenaline and the atmosphere or how much of that is that there is something wrong and you are riding too fast or you are riding above your horses fitness ability.

Or really importantly whether your horse has some element of pain or distress as that’s what a high heart rate can indicate.  And with a lot of the endurance horses, if they vet out lame they would have experienced that the horse would take longer to pulse down as they come into the vet gate and it must be below 64 beats per minute.

If a horse normally recovers in 1 or 2 minutes and is taking 5, 6, 7 or 8 minutes only three things have happened

* You’ve ridden beyond that horse’s training and fitness ability, so it’s more fatigued, it can’t recover how the horse has been in training.

* There is some pain somewhere. The horse is possibly lame and is hurting and the heart rate has gone high.

* The horse is very distressed by the atmosphere and the environment, it’s all been too much for it.

 

Can heart rate monitoring in training give you a competitive edge?

One of the key things about competing is being able to get your horse to peak fitness.   The way that you can do that is by tracking your horse’s heart rate as you are training and ensuring that your horse’s heart rate can remain as low as it can when your horse is recovering from a piece of exercise.

What I mean by that is that you’ve done your canter exercise, or you’ve been out on a long training ride, we are looking to see how long it takes for the horse to pulse down.  So we’re checking the heart rate as we are riding along and then we are seeing how quickly the horse’s heart rate gets to below 64 bmp as a minimum and preferably a lot lower than that.

Understanding how quickly a horse can recover after exercise is a key indication of his level of fitness. We are using the Enduro Equine Fitness Tracker to measure that on a daily basis as we work towards a competition.  If it’s going the wrong way and the horse’s recovery heart rate is going higher, then there is something clearly wrong with the horse.

Can heart rate monitoring help all horse riders?

The Enduro Equine Fitness Tracker can be used for all disciplines.

Firstly, it’s an excellent tool for anyone who is training horses for fitness and wanting to compete at a high level that requires high levels of fitness, such as flat racing, eventing, show jumpers and dressage horses.

Monitoring heart rate in training helps to see how fit the horses are or how young horses are coping with the demands of training or stressful situations. A particularly high heart rate may indicate pain or injury.

Likewise if you have a horse recovering from injury, it’s a useful way of monitoring the level of progress and rehabilitation.

Secondly, the Enduro FIT app and Fitness Tracker is ideal for pleasure riders to see

* How far you’ve ridden

* How fit your horse is

* Whether you could go further or faster

* Bringing a horse on or back from recovery

* Coming out of winter aiming for long rides or the competition season ahead.

Heart rate monitoring with the Enduro Equine Fitness Tracker provides a great benchmark – it’s a real training tool which gives you a tangible benefit as you progress with the horse’s fitness.

 

What is your favourite feature of the Enduro Equine Fitness Tracker?

Real time data is an excellent feature. I want to be riding and seeing in real time what is actually happening on that ride.

In addition, the new Live Tracking feature (*coming soon) is excellent for us endurance riders. A remote user can see the rider’s location, speed, distance and the horse’s heart rate.

What it means is that your crew are able to see where you are and therefore when you’re coming in to the vet gates.  When they need to be ready to crew you and be in position at the vet gate to help you coming in when time is of the essence.

It’s also extremely useful if you are running teams of horses – this could be for a big international team-competition like the Europeans or World Championships but also in other disciplines.

Normally in flat racing you’re running multiple horses out on the heath or gallops so you’re able to go back and forth looking at the different horses – same for a big 3 day event yard.

It’s actually a great safety feature for any rider… if you are on a hack, anyone can see in real time exactly where you are and when you’re on your way home.

 

The Enduro Equine Fitness Tracker is SO EASY TO USE!

Using the Enduro Equine Fitness Tracker helps me train better, be more competitive and be more successful but it also gives me welfare benefits for the horse – knowing that the horse may not be injured or in pain by showing a high heart rate.

In the past there has been a lot of myth and confusion about heart rate monitors that are difficult to use – the older devices are complicated to set up with pads underneath the saddle and lots of wires and often they came apart and were really quite difficult to use and expensive!

Plus it’s so easy to use… you just pop your girth inside a sleeve, connect your phone and you’re ready to go.

As an endurance rider, the Enduro Equine Fitness Tracker ticks all  the boxes for the discipline of endurance as we need to know our heart rate with the way that we train and needing to know the horse’s heart rate all the time as we come into vet gates in competition.

It’s a Game-Changer!!

Find out more about Enduro Equine Fitness Tracker

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