At the stroke of midnight on January 1, many of us vow to be better versions of ourselves in the new year. Often, these resolutions fade into the periphery as the holiday season grows small in the rearview mirror. Promises to hit the gym or spend more time in the saddle rarely seem to materialize.
Enter Hylofit, a state-of-the-art system for monitoring both rider and equine heart rates (and more!) in real-time. You might be familiar with the name, as we’ve mentioned the newly-launched product in the past, but now that we’ve had our hands on one for over a month, we thought we’d provide a deeper dive into the technology, as well as the ways in which it has helped us incorporate more structured exercise into our rides (why hit the gym when we can hit the saddle?), while simultaneously providing analytics to help us improve fitness in our horses as well.
Two birds, one app (and you get a discount if you sign up for our weekly email!).
How Does It Work?
The rider wears a heart rate monitor on a chest strap that encircles the ribcage, and attaches a similar (larger) monitor to the horse’s girth. The only other item necessary is a smartphone with the Hylofit app (though we recommend a surcingle for work when not under saddle). The system has the ability to catalog multiple horses and riders, as well as various types of workouts, and maintains a calendar for viewing rides over time.
During each ride, the smartphone app/watch displays horse and rider BPM (beats per minute), speed, distance, location, and length of ride.
We learned that basic flatwork can provide a fantastic workout for the rider. Using calories burned as a measure of output, we realized that 45 minutes of concentrated flatwork provides a workout that rivals a spin class of the same length. Perhaps more importantly, we were able to treat our rides as workouts by periodically checking in with the app to check how long and hard we’d worked, then adjusting as necessary by adding ten minutes of posting trot, intervals of cantering in half-seat, etc. We were also able to note that there were moments of spiked BPM, which suggested that the exercises we performed during those moments might be the ones that are most difficult for rider and/or horse, thus allowing us to identify maneuvers in need of improvement.
These are almost too numerous to list, and will vary depending on individual objectives and discipline. However, basic monitoring of BMP in every horse can help determine fitness level, provide the rider with data that can be useful in creating a training regimen, aid in proper cooldown, and identify moments of stress or potential illness.
Specifically, at OR HQ, we’ve used Hylofit to create a fitness program for the horses that includes both riding and treadmill work. By determining how the speed and incline of the treadmill corresponds to heart rate zones (below, left), we’ve been able to tailor the training schedule to increase or maintain endurance and strength, and to provide a proper post-ride cool down (below, right) for one horse when it’s time to hop on the next.
The Hylofit technology performs as promised, and provides an abundance of unexpected functionality to aid in actually sticking to those riding resolutions this year. For data geeks like us, we relish the ability to make informed decisions when it comes to the health and fitness of our horses.
Hylofit is offering 15% off to Outside Rein subscribers, so if you’re not signed up, please do! We will immediately send an email with our exclusive discount code.