Baseline Buzz: Exploring Heart Rate Data

We've talked at length about the usefulness of taking regular heart rate readings from your horse. Not only is this instrumental in monitoring fitness progression, this data can also give horse owners insights into their horse's health and wellbeing. 

You don't have to be a "nerd" to enjoy analyzing data — if you're willing to invest just a small amount of time, this information can help with decision making and being the best advocate for your horse. Data shows trends over time, which is why taking regular Baseline rides is an important part of using heart rate in your riding.

Hylofit user Courtenay Tuxhorn has made monitoring heart rate a regular part of her routine with her ex-racehorse, Bam. She's generously shared her Baseline ride summaries with us, along with her observations after taking a look at each ride in comparison to the others. These three rides were taken approximately one month apart.

October 2019 Baseline Ride: In this ride, Courtenay notices a marked difference in Bam's heart rate when cantering to the left versus cantering to the right (right side of the zone graph below). This clued her in that he may be experiencing some discomfort, as a higher than normal heart rate can indicate pain.

November 2019 Baseline Ride: Bam had injections done between this ride and the one in October. Already, you can see a more even heart rate between both of his canter leads. 

December 2019 Baseline Ride: Bam's heart rate looks consistently similar and symmetric to each direction.



We'll let Courtney take it from here: 

"First, I don't see the same marked difference in left vs. right canter heart rate since my horse got his injections, so that's more evidence that he was in pain and is feeling better.
Second, my horse seems to adapt aerobically even faster than I expected; his canter heart rate during our Baseline ride this week was almost the same as at the trot! I had also done an aerobic fitness ride earlier in the week (3x5 trot 3x3 canter), his heart rate didn't get into Zone 2 (60-70% of max heart rate) at the canter until about halfway through each canter segment. We were cantering more forward during that ride than during the baseline ride.

Based on this, I think I'm going to cut down on aerobic fitness days during the next couple of months, which are a strength-building focus for us. I was going to do weekly aerobic fitness every 7 days throughout the winter, but based on what I'm seeing from our baseline ride progression I don't think he needs it."
Courtenay was able to adjust her training plan to not only reduce the wear and tear on her horse but also prevent him from overtraining. By monitoring even seemingly small changes in your horse's heart rate, you may notice that your program could use a small tweak. 
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