Your HR (Heart Rates) play a big roll in determining how fit your horse is.
Resting HR can tell you lots after you have established a base line of taking it everyday for awhile. If your your conditioning program is working for you, you will eventually see a drop in the resting HR. This may take awhile, even years, but if you keep track you will see it drop at least by a couple of beats. The lower your horses HR does not mean that he is a better athlete then the horse that is 10 beats higher. But what it does mean that the horse with the lowest HR will probably get better vet scores and more BC just because how the system is set up. So, don't let that 40 resting HR scare you away from a good potential candidate. It is the recovery rate that is most important. Day to day rates should not vary by more then a couple of beats, if it does start looking for a reason.. Most common reason is over conditioning, your horse needs some rest... or they are getting sick.
Recovery Rate is how fast your horse recovers back to normal. Now there are two components as far as I am concerned. You have a working HR and the recovery or time it takes to get back to a certain level. I happen to use 120 as my recovery bottom number, the top number I don't care too much about as long as the effort put forth was good enough for that horse. So if I sprint up a hill and the horse hits 200 as his top number, what I am looking at is how fast it takes him to recover back to 120... I keep track of those numbers because they are important to judge your improvement. For the most part your working HR will improve slowly over time. This working HR is very important, a horse that can't recover after just a little work will not be able to recover to a good resting HR for you vet check.
Swinging Heat Rates are pretty common in unconditioned horses. I do not get overly concerned about a swinging HR during conditioning in a rookie horse, just means you need to back off a little. Swinging HR is when your horse comes in from your work and your horse pulses down to say 80 within a few minutes and seems to hang there for awhile. You keep watching and he then goes down to 65 and up to 70 then down to 62 then back up to 70 or higher. You get the idea, the fit horse will come in and be down to 80 and keep dropping all the way to criteria. You need to know your horse, and to know if they swing at all. If they are swinging and you see 60 and then run off to the vet, you probably are done for the day... Just because they swing before going into vet does not mean your done for the day as long as you are paying attention. Give your horse some time to stabilize before presenting to the vet. Take the time you need. Then if your smart you will slow way down and get a completion.
Conditioning HR's are important to keep track of so you can go back and see your improvement over the months, and years. See post on Heart Rate Monitors..
WEG 2010 endurance horses were out on the endurance trail travelling at about 15 mph or faster, they will canter into the vet area, saddles are pealed and horses cooled with lots of water by lots of people. These horses reach a criteria of 64 in sometimes under two minutes.. That last lap of the race was run at about 20 mph by more then just a few horses, their recovery times were in the 3 minute range, at least for the lead horses. These horses have to do lots of cardio in order to develop their conditioning to that level, it does not just happen by accident. It takes many many hours of upper level conditioning to get that kind of results.
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