Baseline Buzz: Tips for Using Heart Rate Data for Horse Health and Fitness

Regularly monitoring your horse’s heart rate can yield historical insights that are instrumental in making ongoing decisions. One way to “check in” on how your horse’s fitness work, recovery from injury or illness, or general training program is working is to collect routine Baseline measurements.

We’ve talked before about Baseline rides - you can read our previous articles on this topic here and here. Now, let’s get into some more detail as to how to make the most of your Baseline data.

Don’t forget: this is important info for your health, too. Hylofit was designed with both the horse and rider in mind, so wear your Chest Strap to record your own heart rate during a ride.

Keep it similar. Baseline rides should, when possible, be taken in similar circumstances. For example, you likely do Baseline rides at your home barn, not at a show. Maybe you usually do the ride in the outdoor arena or in a jump field. Wherever you do your Baseline ride, try to keep the variables to a minimum. This will help create a more accurate picture of your horse’s heart rate in a “normal” environment.

Variables such as temperature/humidity, location, and weather can all affect our horses, as you are well aware!

The important thing about a Baseline ride is to collect data at each gait, in each direction. Simply select “Baseline” as your activity in the Hylofit app and follow this guide. Alternatively, you can create your own Baseline routine, but be sure to do the same thing each time you take a reading for the sake of consistency.

Compare rides. You can see in this blog how one rider uses her Baseline information to tweak her training and conditioning. Without this information, she’d be doing more guesswork as to the status of her horse’s fitness. You can use the web interface at hylofit.com to see your data in more detail, do side-by-side comparisons, and more.

What if something looks off? Generally speaking, a horse gaining fitness and condition should show a quicker recovery time. You may also notice that the same work (for example, the canter) is sometimes performed at a lower average heart rate - though we should point to recovery time as the metric more directly correlated to fitness.

If you notice anything strange in your Baseline comparison - maybe the right lead canter shows a much higher heart rate than the left lead, or maybe the trot work is higher than last month’s - then you can take the heart rate data to your veterinarian to consult on. There are a lot of variables to consider with heart rate, so having an expert opinion can answer some of the questions you may have.

Taking regular Resting Heart Rate and Baseline measurements create a more complete picture of your horse's health and your own. You can rest assured knowing you have an even deeper connection with your horse that's backed up by data. Not every horse wears her heart on her sleeve! And as we all know, peace of mind is priceless. 

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