Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Getting on my big girl pants...

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.


Mel said...

I have no idea, but hoping someone else does, so wanted to subscribe to comments.

I know I sometimes feel like that during runs - that my heart rate goes up, and then comes down as my body settles into the work.

Mel said...


cheyenne jones said...

When I was doing Competetive Endurance, I always found Gracies heart would rise, if I did something to alter her concentration, while in trot, walk or canter.
It took me a while to fully understand the concept of "Jelling".
Now, I dont compete, it was too hard on her, and my knees. But!! I learned the following, and I hope it helps.

1. When in walk, even a fast walk, let the horse do it for herself/himself, only correct if it slows alters course or breaks.
2. If the horse when in trot, settles to a loose rein, and seems happy at the pace she adopts? Then try and time the race to that speed, dont push the horse to try a speed that you want, not for some time anyway.

Finally, I found Gracies best pace by accident, we were out on a ride of 25 km, not long, but a good training ride. We set off at a lick! She was wanting to go, I wasnt prepared to fight and spoil the day. So I let her, it settled after 3-4 km into a long lovely medium canter(lope) it turned out to be her nominal speed! 25km in 1hr & 41mins. Speed 14.85kph!
Trouble was she wasnt allowed to do that speed until she moved up the classes!
So we had to try and settle to a trot, that was between 10 &11.5kph.
I let her find it herself again, it took some time and then I gave in, as she was too quick. Then it came to me.(I was really dumb!)
Let her walk-jog! it worked, her walk was fast and almost a jog. So it finally worked out. Trying to get her/him to do a set pace is fine, but stressful. let her decide.

All Who Wander said...

The heart rates you are specifying are not of concern. Climbing a hill in the 140-155 range is only barely out of aerobic. When you see numbers pushing into the 170's and beyond, then you need to make an adjustment. This is why I pulled Phebes at Top of the Rock. Her pulse at the trot was 180 bpm from start, to finish. She was using herself up, and I had lost my ability to calm her down and get her rating until too late in the ride.

It is those big non-effecient spikes that should worry you. It is perfectly acceptable to push up in the 140's while training, this is how you retrain the muscle fibers over time through progressive loading. What pushes her into the 140's this week, most likely won't in two weeks, and then you can increase the work load again. Make sense?

~E.G. (who has been out of the saddle over a week and about to lose my mind)

Anonymous said...

Hey girl!!!!! I certainly wouldn't be too concerned about heart rate at this point in your training, but what I WOULD be focusing on is getting that girl to rate and NOT PULL. Ugh. I know that the conservative way you ride will not push her into metabolic distress and all those long, slow miles will build up more than you know. I don't look at HR when I am riding, but I do like to gauge how quick they come down when we make a stop. I think heart rate at this point in training is moot because no one should be out there pushing their green horses they way you would a seasoned horse.

Fight your battles (rating and pulling) now, and worry about conditioning to the monitor later. You are an excellent trainer and will have no problem with her!!!

Will we still see you guys at Pink Flamingo?!?!? Fingers crossed!!! ~ Amanda

Jonna said...

Mel-settling is what we are trying to focus on .. for sure! (not sure if you realized but you sent a second comment with just the word subscribe???

@Cheyenne-thanks for the feedback. some good thoughts that I will ponder.

@EG-that makes me feel way better!!

@Amanda- Hi there! Your spot on.. about not worrying abut heart rate right now (sigh) but I did want to get a baseline and be able to compare it to something later on as she gets fitter... She's a hot little ticket this one... slow is the keyword for sure with her.. I am already surprised at how she has improved so much with recovering from even a month or so ago, and I haven't really done what I would consider alot of riding.. so yes, slow miles do really work...Now I just have to convince her of that!!!

I am still planning to come down to Pink Flamingo at this point. I am probably joining a few other gals I ride with and we might have a caravan coming! I really want to make it and meet you and few others face to face!!Thanks for the nice compliments about training.. however, this little mare has me wondering about my training skills!!