Often, horses are unable to communicate to us that they’re not feeling well or that they have some pain. Particularly for the horses who are more stoic — we can all name at least one! — this can present a challenge when it comes to keeping an eye out for their wellbeing.
Hylofit, while widely known as a training and conditioning tool, has another use that may not at first be obvious: it gives riders the ability to have a better idea of their horse’s pain threshold.
Think of it this way. When animal (humans, too) experience pain, their heart rates elevate in response. But how are we to know if the heart rate is actually elevated? Yes, there are easy ways to take a horse’s heart rate — but during a ride?
Here’s where Hylofit comes in handy, and it’s something that user Tracy Porter saw firsthand.
“Novel was a bit off last night, but it didn’t really manifest [until] I asked him to trot,” Tracy wrote in an Instagram post. “The interesting thing is that my stoic horse, who was only a little off, had such a massive jump in heart rate with minimal work. You can definitely tell he was in pain.”
Take a look at the ride stats from Tracy’s Hylofit app. Novel’s heart rate, which for the majority of the ride stayed fairly low, spiked as soon as Tracy asked him to trot.
While an elevated heart rate can be indicative of many things, Tracy knew her horse well enough to know that this was abnormal. When coupled with the manifestation of slight lameness, she knew it was time to call it a night.
This ride occurred a few days after Novel received a routine trim, and he’s prone to a bit of foot soreness. “He was really footsore on his right front,” Tracy said. “He has a habit of spending about an hour per day walking a roughly 20 meter circle. I think it has something to do with how much time he spent on the hot walker when he was a racehorse. He wore his foot down pretty quickly always walking to the right, so we put added shoes and voila! Better.”
Tracy is an amateur rider who is working towards competing in both equitation and eventing with Novel, an 11-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred who raced in Hong Kong. Her investment in Hylofit didn’t come without some thought.
“I really debated if we were at a level [where Hylofit] would really be a worthwhile tool for me before ordering, and finally I decided that level didn’t matter,” Tracy explained.
We’re happy that nothing beyond the foot soreness came up on further examination of Novel, but Tracy is thankful to have had the extra insight that Hylofit provides to help her be an advocate for her horse and his comfort.