Still playing with this heart rate monitor thing and last night. I took Maggie out for a 2 hour solo ride last night and noticed some interesting things.
Up to this point, I have always had someone along with me while riding her. While I can’t use the excuse that Maggie is still new to me, I still don’t feel like I have all her buttons figured out and we are far from “gellin” yet. Her reactions to things are not always consistent. Until we get all that figured out, I prefer to have someone along with out on the trail , but last night, it just didn’t work out and.. well…she needed to get ridden… besides, it was time to take a step forward in our relationship, maybe try to put a little trust in her and officially put on my big girl pants...
Maggie was feeling rather “fresh” so I decided it would be a good night for the loop with more elevation challenges, in the hopes to channel that energy appropriately.
We headed out and took the left onto the trail I was after. Right away, while traveling at a walk , still on relatively flat ground, I noticed her heart rate was higher than what it had been running the last few times I have had the monitor on her. Of course, this is all still new so I have no idea if I really have a true baseline yet. All I can say is that in the last 5 times I have used the monitor she had been running anywhere between 88 and 94 while we walk and the ground is relatively level. Last night she was hanging out about 108-109. I thought maybe it was that she might be a bit nervous being alone and all. She was definitely much more on alert to every squirrel, bird or any other noise that was made.
During the climbing sessions, she jumped up to 155 once, we stopped and she came down to 105 within a couple seconds so I wasn’t alarmed. I noticed on the next hill, she went up to 143 for just a few strides and then seemed to level off at 136 , and stayed there until we reached the top. Not bad?? I am honestly not sure since I don't know what she should be at for climbing a hill.
As we got further into the ride, she did seem to relax and she leveled off, thus staying about 90 on the flat ground. I finally got into some area where we could do some trotting and work on pacing. I thought it would present the perfect time and would be easy without any other horse to compete against. Boy was I ever wrong! She must have known we were sort of headed in the direction of the trailer, (but still several miles away) because she was pulling very hard, very speedy. Normally at a trot, when I can settle her into a reasonable pace, she has been running about 117-118 . This time, having to holding her up quite a bit , she kept spiking up to 136-144. Way to high for a trot! That much I knew.... Clearly, she was using more energy to fight me. I asked her to walk again for a while to settle down a bit. When we got to a long section of flat open dirt track. I asked for the trot again but this time, I let her pick the pace. I wanted to see what would happen with her heart rate because I know that every horse varies on what speed they are most efficient at. It was a stretch of trail of maybe a ½ mile. Ofcourse, Maggie chose a big fast trot. Her heart rate spiked at first to 144, then to my surprise, it back off to 123 and that is where it remained for the entire ½ mile.
So what does this mean? Does it mean she has to travel at that fast pace to be efficient ? I would think that I should be able to teach her to relax enough so she can travel at a slower pace and still be efficient. ( I hope so cuz I can’t ride that trot for 25 miles!!)
What about her heart rate during climbing? If she is recovering within a few seconds to a better rate, should I be concerned that she is jumping up to 155 ? Or do I just have to be patient as this will just improve over time as her condition improves?
I am beginning to see some changes in her from even two weeks ago; a two hour ride used to wipe her out for the next two days. In the last two weeks, I am seeing that 2 hours is no longer much of a challenge anymore for her. I think we are making progess in her conditioning but I would love to get any feedback anyone with more experience than I with heart rate monitors.