Kentucky Equine Research has spent more than 30 years studying equine fitness and exercise physiology. In that time, we’ve identified specific measurable parameters indicating a horse’s relative level of fitness. Heart rate is a key indicator that is strongly correlated to these other parameters, some of which are more difficult to measure in the real world. Therefore, heart rate is an ideal way to assess the fitness of a working horse in real time.

Previous research has shown that eventing horses’ lactate levels are much higher during competition than normal training, indicating that typical training is insufficient to attain the level of fitness needed to compete without physiologic stress.

Workload relates strongly to nutrition in that energy is the nutritional factor most influenced by training and work. The amount and source of energy required is determined by the horse’s temperament, duration of exercise, and intensity of exercise. Most feeding guides base horse requirements by whether their discipline is considered light, moderate, or intense. But one horse’s conditioning program may be far more (or less) intense than another competing at the same level.

KER ClockIt Sport enables you to objectively measure each horse’s actual workload to make better individual feeding choices. In future iterations, KER ClockIt Sport will interface directly with KER’s MicroSteed Ration Wizard to give updated feeding recommendations based on the individual horse’s actual workload.

Heart rate measures all factors affecting exercise intensity:

  • Breed
  • Bodyweight
  • Speed
  • Gait
  • Extra load of rider and saddle
  • Rider’s ability
  • Footing surface
  • Temperature
  • Wind
  • Positive and negative incline
  • Shoeing
  • Experience
  • Status of training
  • Individual muscle fiber profile

Troubleshooting Heart Rate Monitor Issues

  • Check that the Bluetooth is turned on.
  • Check that the Bluetooth device is properly clicked in to the electrode set.
  • Check that the electrodes have a good, consistent contact with the horse:
    • The correct side is contacting the horse
    • Positioned correctly
    • Girth tight enough
    • Enough ultrasound gel (unclipped horses will require more gel).
  • Close the app and restart it.
  • Change the battery in the Bluetooth device.
(Although it may stay around the same rate at the same work intensity, if the HR does not change at all it is probably not being read correctly).

  • Ensure contact has not been lost:
    • Is there enough gel?
    • Is your girth tight enough?
    • Has the electrode slipped from where it should be?
    • Check the batteries in the Bluetooth device.
  • Try turning the Bluetooth device around in the electrode set.
  • Check there is enough gel on the electrodes.
  • Stop and restart the app.
  • If you have just put the electrodes on the horse, try walking it around a little to see if the electrodes will pick up the correct HR.
  • If there is another horse that has a monitor on nearby, you may be connected to the Bluetooth on that horse. The app is generally good at connecting to the device that is closest to it, but occasionally it will connect to another. Once a Bluetooth is connected to the app, no other electrode set can connect to it.
  • Is it easiest if you can place the electrodes on each horse individually and then connect it to whichever phone will be used on that horse before placing electrodes on the next horse. Obviously this is not always practical, so in that case you can check which device is connected to which horse by changing pace and watching the speed. For example, if two are riding together, if you stop your horse and the other keeps walking, and your speed drops to 0, then you are connected to the right one.