While the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout North America, Canadian eventing rider Karl Slezak and his wife, Katlyn, kept a close eye on the shifting news. As more stay at home and shelter in place orders began to come down, they made the decision to stay at their winter base in Ocala, Florida, rather than returning to their home province of Ontario.
This lengthened separation from the other horses and riders in their program who had remained at home was proper cause for stress. And what of the horses at home, also? As Canada enforced stricter shelter in place protocols, barns were forced to follow suit, keeping their businesses tightly reined in for essential work only.
Reflecting on the past month — which now includes a missed trip to the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event with his Pan American Games mount, Fernhill Wishes — Karl says one thing he's particularly thankful for is having some peace of mind provided by Hylofit:
"While I’m lucky enough to be able to ride my horses these days, many of our boarders and owners in Florida and Ontario are unable to see their horses. For most of these people, their horses are their break from work, and a huge part of their family.
Especially in Ontario where several of our clients are quarantined due to travel, and only essential personnel are in the barn, the Hylofit monitor has been an amazing way for connecting boarders with their horses.
Not only can we use this system to monitor speed and heart rate for every horse ridden, we can pair the readings with video, notes containing details on the specifics of the ride and even a map of where the horses have flatted, or hacked each day. While we’re still in Florida, my long-time working student Monika LeRoy, who manages the Canadian operation in the winter months has been working double-time to keep the boarders horses fit.
While it is easy to think that the Hylofit is only practical for upper-level competitors and prospects, we use it for every horse we sit on — including low-level dressage and pleasure horses. Especially in a time where boarders are not able to come and ride on their own, the Hylofit allows us to make sure that these horses are maintaining a basic level of fitness, and also helps us gauge whether we are over-conditioning them for their current purpose.
The boarders love to be able to see and discuss the graphs (we can tell if the horses really think that one corner in arena is scary!), and it also gives them that extra bit of reassurance that their horses are exercised and in good health when they cannot be around."
Lead photo courtesy of Eventing Nation/Shelby Allen.