The beginning of 2020 was indicative of a banner season for Sean Jobin and his Grand Prix show jumping partner, Darius. The 12 year old KWPN gelding has been in Sean’s data driven program since 2018, and the detail oriented approach this program takes has made a big difference for the horse. That difference is noticeable, and Darius picked up several other top placings to start the year. But a bobble in a class just before a World Cup qualifier prompted Sean to take a closer look at his horse using Hylofit’s heart monitor for horses.
Darius balked strongly at jumping into a triple combination on course at the pair’s final prep competition before the Live Oak International World Cup qualifier earlier this year. After retiring on course, Sean thought that there might be some underlying tension afoot. In his final training for the qualifier, he wanted to understand what was going on, and if it would be something he could fix.
Triple combinations are tricky and perhaps one of the most technical questions that a course designer can ask. Varying in stature but always technical with striding and strategy, triples can be intimidating to a horse as they have mere seconds to piece together both the question and its answer. Sean put on his Hylofit and set up a similar triple combination once he returned home with Darius. It was time to practice.
“The combination at the show was 1.55 meters, just very meaty,” Sean recalled. “So I started it smaller, about 1.35 meters, and he came around to it and kind of balked at it like he had at the show. So I took a second to let him see it. The next time, we kicked our way through and he felt better. As we raised it, he felt better each time.”
During post-ride analysis on the Hylofit app, Sean saw that Darius’ heart rate spiked significantly at the first sight of the combination. There was also a second spike when Sean had to ride a bit harder through the second time. After that, Darius’ heart rate relaxed significantly on subsequent attempts, confirming Sean’s suspicion that the horse had gotten in his head a little. It was somewhat of a relief for Sean, who had hoped there was not a physical issue that was holding his horse back. Confidence, Sean says, is something he knows he can cultivate. Confirming this hunch using heart rate data took a lot of guesswork out of Sean’s job.
“If I don’t have that data, there are a million different things that go through my mind as to what could be wrong,” Sean said. “Maybe he’s not fit enough or not strong enough or he’s in pain. This helped me confirm, after watching his heart rate drop once he was successfully going through the combination, that his confidence had gotten low.”
Regularly monitoring heart rate is a great way to solidify your partnership with your horse, giving you more insight into their overall health. For Sean, the performance improvements are the icing on the cake when he has happy, confident horses. “For me, it’s nice to not have so much of that guesswork.”
To learn more about Sean Jobin and his program, visit Double Clear LLC here.
Want to inform your own riding with heart rate monitoring? Hylofit takes the guesswork out so you can make better decisions for your horse. Shop here!