Horse Fitness and Monitor Bands
 By Saferaphus   •   31st Dec 2016   •   378 views   •   0 comments
My Garmin Vivofit is always on my wrist. It’s a replacement for the MiBand that my husband claims I wore to death. Fitbits, UA Bands, Misfits, and Jawbones are just a few of the better known fitness bands that count your steps, your heartbeat, the distance you travel and the hours you sleep. Socrates would have been impressed. If the unexamined life is not worth living, those of us who pour over the stats our fitness bands feed us are living it up. The same types of technology that allows to quantify many aspects of our own health and activities are also available for our horses.

In the endurance riding world, on-board heart rate monitors have been used for years. These devices used be wired, which required that the rider or their helpers not dislodge the unit or its wiring while looking after the horse. And they were single function, measuring only heart rate and not all kept the data for viewing later. Newer models however, are wireless. The same company that made my Vivofit makes units that are used while riding. The wristband is set up to display the horse’s rather than the human’s pulse rate and also records pace, elevation, the route and distance. The rider can monitor the horse’s pulse while the horse is working, and after look at the data online. The Garmin monitor is one of several available to riders to keep an eye on their horse as they ride.

Another type of monitor that has become easier to use with wireless technology are foaling monitors. These bands are worn by mares that are due to foal and will send an alarm to a pager or cellphone. Some work by sending an alarm when the mare is lying down for a time, with sensor either under the horse’s jaw or in a band around the girth area. Another is inserted inside the birth canal, and sends a signal when the connection between two sensors ifsbroken or the sensor is pushed out. Yet another senses when the mare starts sweating, a common indication that foaling is imminent.

But, not all of us are concerned about overworking our horses over a long distance like endurance riders might or whether a foal is about to be born. We might be more interested in our horse’s overall health. As they say, there’s an app for that. And, a monitor that your horse can wear 24X7, if you want. One of these is the Equisense. This kickstarter project measures and tracks your horse’s vital signs. Of course you check your horse several times a day in real life. But, the Equisense can help you determine when and where your horse is experiencing stress, sense early signs of colic, and the level of your horse’s activity when you’re not riding it.

The Equisense unit will record the time the horse spends moving around, the pace it moves at, the distance it travels, when and how long it sleeps, pulse and respiration and perspiration. Future releases will also monitor body temperature, agitation and the time spent eating. Alerts on your smartphone can tell you if the horse is in duress, such as a during a bout of colic or injury, allowing you to check your horse at any time. In addition to the monitoring feature, the app also allows you to record vet visits, vaccination schedules and other important information about your horse’s care.

Another unit that is made for everyday use is the SeeHorse. This small device can be used manually, held against the horse’s rib cage, in a surcingle for turnout or in a saddle pad when the horse is ridden. The SeeHorse monitors your horse’s pulse, temperature, respiration, activity levels and through the use of an animated avatar, allows you to ‘watch’ your horse throughout the day. Alarms will be triggered if any of the horse’s vital signs go outside the normal levels. There is also an alarm that can be set to activate if the horse goes outside specific area, such as its stall.

So now, I can compare my horse’s data against my own and figure out which of us is working harder. How did I sleep last night? Let me tell you how many minutes of deep and light sleep I had, and what time I made that trip down to raid the cookie box. And then we’ll take a look at how long my horse spent eating and when I can ride so I don’t disturb her nap.

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