I want to start tracking my boy's heart rate while we're out on our adventures and keep moving towards getting him in (and me) shape for a LD run. I'm not in need of a GPS/distance/intergalactic geography type gadget, but I do think I need something along the lines of a simple heart rate monitor.
Any suggestions for something good, dependable and easy to use? And, uh, if you don't educating the newbie, HOW do you put a heart rate monitor on a horse? I don't think I've ever actually seen one used, and have only ever used the ones on the machines at the gym where you grab the handles and it tells you on myself...
Your going to want/ need a GPS, no other tool works as well to track speed/ distance.
Id look at a garmin 310xt or the fortrex 401 wrist GPS. That add a HRM. You have to go to a horse endurance type vendor, running bear, distance depot, etc. They sell horse adapted HRM. Basically it is a band that goes around the horse under the girth before you put the saddle on. I use a hand held polar unit. Has a handle you press against the horses side and get a reading. I keep it at the trailer. I use my GPS to track speed and distance, then check the pulse back at the trailer. Or if I am on an endurance ride I will check it myself before I go to the vet check. I don't really need it for conditioning rides. A on board HRM is probably a useful tool if you are trying to get peak performance out of a horse, but since you are just starting out I wouldnt worry about it. A wrist GPS with 20 plus hours of battery life is way more useful. YOu will be able to tell from how your horse is acting if he is tired or not or if pulse is too high.
They make stand-alone heart rate monitors. The kind and the cost vary. I personally have a V-max, which I love. It does not have a band that goes around the horse, instead has 2 electrode pads (flat plastic pieces about an inch square) which go under the saddle and under the girth (velcro holds it in place):
The wires attach to the transmitter:
Which is then picked up by a special watch:
There are also handheld monitors which are meant for on-the-ground readings (they talk to the same watch):
Roger Rittenhouse is the man who founded V-Max, but he has since retired and no longer does direct sales. But you can find his monitors on other distance websites, like this one.
Of, if all of that is a bit much (or out of your price range), you can simply stop along the trail and listen to your horse's heart with a stethoscope and count the old-fashioned way!
Dawn, do you have a picture that shows how you have it hooked up to her?
I don't have any good pics as I have never intentionally taken any of that. I was going to take pics for you tomorrow, when I realized I don't have the monitor down here (its on my free n easy, which has already moved up to dean's). See what I get for deciding to try Dream in my treeless saddle for the first time ever? ;)
But in hunting through other random pics, I found these (and also realized that 95% of my pictures are of our right side.. why the heck do you think that is??).
Here you can see the white wire coming out of the front of the saddle and into the lefthand saddle bag (where I have the transmitter). That electrode sits just off the side of her spine under the seat of the saddle:
Here, you can see the black velcro across my girth which is holding the other electrode against her side. You can also barely see the black wire going upwards from the top left of the band. If you look closely, you can see the white wire going across the saddle bag (over the tops of the syringes sticking out):
Hope that helps. If not, the next time I am near my other saddle, I will take better pictures!
Does the monitor actually go under the girth? It seems like it would feel like a lump to the horse.
Both electrodes go between the saddle/girth and the horse. They are pretty flat. I could see how a really sensitive horse might notice them, but Dream never has (and I know lots of people who ride with monitors and can't recall anybody mentioning an issue.. but by the time you get to a ride, you would have figured out it didn't work!).