Your horse seems like he’s ready to tackle a busy competition season. You’ve planned and perfected every step of the training that will lead up to the first show on the calendar, and all systems appear to be ready to go.
But then, something odd happens.
You arrive at the show, full of fresh anticipation of a brand new season with a clean slate. But in your first class, you have three rails down. Odd, you think. Usually your horse doesn’t take rails down. Oh well, you shrug. Probably just some nerves and rust.
In the next class, your horse has several rails down again, and now you begin to get concerned. Your horse feels a bit lackluster, off his game. Where did your training go wrong? How could your plan have not prepared you and your horse to the best of your abilities?
For any equestrian discipline, one of the most foundational elements is horse fitness. While a show jumping or dressage horse may not condition in the same way a racehorse or an event horse might, there is still much value in setting horse fitness benchmarks as you ramp up your program to prepare for a show or competition. Even for the non-competitive rider, fitness data is important to the overall health of your horse.
Show jumping Hall of Fame rider Rodrigo Pessoa agrees with this concept.
This spring, Hylofit accompanied Rodrigo on his “Once In a Lifetime” European clinic tour, with stops in Sweden and Finland, as the presenting sponsor. During the clinics, Rodrigo demonstrated the usefulness of the revolutionary new wearable fitness tracker designed for both horse and rider.
“It’s become a very important tool for me in my training, to know the level of fitness the horses are in,” Rodrigo says of his experience using Hylofit wearable technology.
Rodrigo talked about the importance of setting horse fitness benchmarks in show jumping training as a way to track a horse’s level of fitness.
“[At home], I’m going to have the device on and I see that the horse is going at 140, 150 heartbeats per minute, and I’m going to do it again a couple of days later and then I see that the horse went down in his heartbeat,” he explained. “This means that he’s fitter, he’s going in a good direction of his fitness.”
Why is knowing this information important? Because it gives you, the rider, a chance to identify issues if they arise. Rodrigo says he’s used the Hylofit at home to observe the resting and working heart rates of his horses to set a “normal” data set.
“If one day, [the horse] goes out of that pattern and out of those numbers you know that something is wrong,” he said. “So it’s prevention that is really important also.”
Now let’s revisit the show-gone-wrong after the months of training. With Hylofit, a rider can collect data such as heart rate and workload on both the horse and the rider.
By using this data to understand each horse’s normal range, you can set a fitness plan that is customized for each horse — and have the confidence that both you and your horse are ready to go on competition day.
All photos are used with permission from Heidi Lammi Photography.