Action Ambrose

Action Ambrose

Equine Heart Rate Monitors

My wife has a Audi TT, low to the ground, she calls it her slot car.  This car scoots, when I drive it to town and get on the short stretch of Freeway it feels like I am going 200 mph, and after looking at the speedometer I am shocked that I am going 40 in the fast lane......  That is why you NEED a Heart Rate Monitor for your horse..

I find it a invaluable tool, of coarse you can do it without, but why?  I prefer the Garmin 310XT, it has lots of nice features that previous models did not have.  It vibrates when one of your alarms goes off.  I have several alarms set, one is max HR, set for 185, the low HR is set for 62 which I will probably change....  You can set for notification of your pace on a per mile basis.  I have mine set for 1 mile.  I have used it mostly for conditioning of MONK.  Where I find that feature handy is when we go out to canter for 20 miles, every mile it will vibrate, you look down at the watch and your pace is in the middle of the screen for about 10 seconds or so.

I use the POLAR belts with the soft belt transmitters from Garmin, they snap right onto the POLAR belts made for the soft belt Polar transmitters.

There are a few HR values that you should get to know very well:

Resting HR
Maximum HR
Recovery HR
Working HR

Of the the 4 HR above I put the most value on the Recovery HR.  I use this value a lot, especially when doing hills, sprints or repeats.  Your horse might sprint a short distance and reach his Maximum HR of say 220.  If within 90 seconds his HR is not 120 or below you need to head for home, he is done for the day.  I have a short hill that I will start running Ambrose up soon.  It is probably about 300 yards long, but has maybe 100 feet of elevation gain.  I will run Ambrose up the hill and then turn around and start walking him back down to the bottom again.  By the time we reach 90 seconds he should be well below 120HR.  What I am attempting to do is to do this sprint as many times as he can until we reach that "Magic Number  120/90".  As soon as he cannot recover, then we are done.  Now this is pretty easy to do with a unconditioned horse.  I could do this hill all day long with MONK and he will never hit the Magic Number.  So, then you have to go look for a longer steeper hill.  I almost never do the hill more then 6 times, even with MONK.  My best guess is that Ambrose will be able to do at least 2 and maybe 3 sprints in his first outing as of the writing of this document, we will know in the next week.  The more you work your horse the better and better you will see his Recovery HR values improve.

Your Maximum Heart Rate can be determined by a good sprint.  I prefer to do it in the uphill mode as you can get going way too fast on the flats...  A quarter of a mile should work fine.  I will use the mini sprints above to determine Ambrose's.

If your horse is 120 on a nice gradual downhill, even at a very fast trot his Working Heart Rate is way too high.  A nice canter on flat ground should be somewhere in the low 100's.  On your normal training loops your horse reads 180 at the top of the hill, within a few seconds, 60 or so. he should be in the low 100's or lower.  If at a fast trot, say 135, it is not uncommon for you horses HR to drop by as much as 10 beats as soon as he goes into a canter..

Resting Heart Rate:  I use the polar chest strap with the Garmin transmitter for this.  With the Garmin you can be maybe 30 feet away from the horse and still read the HR values.  This works great when I use the Quad to pony the horses....    Resting Heart Rate can give you a very good indication as to the general well being/health of your Equine Athlete.  If you take it every day at the same time and keep track of it,  any values of more then 10BPM is cause for further investigation.  Could be an injury or illness.

I have experienced that the more fit the horse the lower their resting HR will go.   So if you start out with a horse with a resting HR of 36, you might end up with one that is 32 when he is fit.  But it does not mean that a horse with a resting HR of 28 is going to be any better then a horse with a HR of 36..

I am not sure if there is a correlation of resting HR's to working HR's or too faster recoveries.

60 in 10

I have used this value of 60 BPM in 10 Minutes for years as a number to shoot for recovery after a work out.  60 BPM recovery means that my workout was JUST hard enough.  If your horse is 50 in 10, you might of well of stayed in bed (kidding), but unless you were just out for a trail ride you did not improve on your horses fitness any. If your horse takes more then 20 minutes to recover to 60 you need to slow your work to try and hit your 60.  You are not going to kill your horse with this type of workout, and YES I do have works where it does take at least that long to recover.  I think that a once a month all out work with a long recovery is fine, as long as it is safe.  I don't have to ASK the horses that I condition, so I am not pushing them beyond what they are capable of doing.  

The key to conditioning with a HR monitor is to not increase distance and speed at the same time.  Try and do everything in increments, know that your horse is comfortable and has mastered each of the increments before increasing either.

With any of the Garmin products and some of the Polar units you can download them to your computer or Garmin Connect and keep track of all of your works.  You can go back and see where you were 30 days ago, you have the tracks that were recored during the work or that race, that can go into Google Earth.   I have not used all of the options that the Garmin has and not sure I ever will, but never say never..

All for now, I will probably add to this from time to time, always forget something.

This page will always be visible on the right hand side of the blog, as well as others that I think are important.