A horse's heart rate can tell owners and caretakers a lot about his fitness and overall health; an increased heart rate can indicate an underlying problem before any outward signs manifest. An increased heart rate can be indicative of pain or stress. Because of this, it's important to know a horse's resting heart rate so caretakers know when something is not quite right.
Wearing a heart rate monitor during work can also indicate something is amiss potentially long before pain become evident in the form of lameness. Even horses that don't seem to be asked for much physical exertion, like lesson horses or those that pack people around the lower competition levels, can benefit from wearing a heart rate monitor. These horses must be quite fit to make up for things like rider mistakes and lack of balance; a heart rate monitor can help ensure they are fit for the lessons they are asked to give.
Horses that event or race as asked to exert massive amounts of energy and fitness is paramount to not only doing well in competition, but to helping prevent injuries that crop up from overexertion and lack of fitness.
Though fitness in humans is indicated by a low resting hear rate, equine fitness is determined by how quickly their heart rate drops after exertion. “Normal” heart rate for horses is between 25 to 40 bpm; a horse that is fit should have a heart rate that drops back to 100 bpm in about a minute after exertion.
Horses are individuals and as such benefit from fitness programs tailored specifically to them; what works to keep one horse fit may not work for another. A heart rate monitor can help determine what is and is not working for each horse and allow caretakers to adjust their training schedules accordingly.
Read more at US Eventing.
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