New Technology May Help Detect Stress in Racehorses

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Scientists hope a new type of “smart textile” can help prevent injuries on the track, according to a report by Popular Science. Technology currently in use to humans’ heart rate via sports bras and chest bands is being modified to work in girths, according to the report.

The monitoring could help prevent catastrophic breakdowns that happen as a result of overtraining by enabling trainers to see stress reflected in vital signs before it develops into something serious.

Currently the sensors being used on human athletes are bulky but researchers are working to slim them down, and to find ways to affix them to bridles and saddles.

Read more at Popular Science

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  • princessspiro

    This is great, hopefully will be available at all tracks for all trainers.

  • louisbille

    It’s merely a built in heart rate monitor capable of detecting the R-R interval. Has been around for decades, but ‘horsemen’ refuse to use them.

    • nu-fan

      Why do they refuse to use them?

  • Forestwildcat

    A good trainer can detect stress much better than any machine

    • louisbille

      Which is better at weighing a horse? A scale, or a trainer’s eyeball? The machine wins in that case every single time.

    • SteveG

      No, a good trainer can detect stress better than a bad trainer. The monitor is not meant to replace expertise, nor will it elevate poor fundamental skills. It does provide a concrete view that no trainer, however skillful and tuned into horse behavior, would otherwise have. In the right hands & over a period of time as profiles emerge, I can see the data being useful to fine line individual conditioning regimens.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    I need to see a little more research done on this one before making a decision really. Part of the theory behind its use makes sense, and a more exhausted horse will be more apt to take a misstep towards the end of a race. However, I think the best measure of how it can determine fitness is the time frame to return of a more normal heart rate post exercise. In addition, with all of the medications that are used nowadays to deaden or reduce pain and inflammation, the natural response to pain of an increased heart rate will likely be decreased a bit at the very least.

  • Skip Ean

    This is great, if it happens, but will owners/managers care enough to buy them? I think the best therapy a horse can get is based upon compassion and regard for the animal…don’t push, don’t drug, don’t disregard signs of pain or illness just to fill a card.

  • G. Rarick

    Heart-rate monitors for horses have come a long way; I’ve just started training with the system from Equinity (I’d include the link, but then my post would be blocked). So far we have a few technical glitches to work out, but I think it will be a useful tool. Since we don’t time workouts in Europe, this is new information for me, and what is most important, as Shelterdoc pointed out, is recovery time. This system lets me chart comparisons with every work, which is interesting. It’s not a magic wand, but it is a useful tool.

    • Roisin

      As with humans, the time interval it takes the heart rate to return to the “normal”, or resting rate, after aerobic exercise is very telling in terms of fitness.

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