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  • - Renie Burnett

    [RC] heartrate as a stress indicator - Debra Ager

    Be careful about depending too much on the horse's heart rate as an indicator of distress.  Friday at the Lone Star ride, my horse colicked after 28 miles.  His heartrate was down to 14 upon arrival to camp, and his CRI in the vet check was 11/10 WHILE he was colicking (he was kicking at his belly while the vet was checking him).  The only indicator other than a B grade on his gut was his expession and behavior.  Fortunately, he was not dehydrated or exhausted on top of his bellyache, and he recovered OK with some medication.  The only other experience I have had with ride related colic was in New Mexico after 40 miles of a 55.  Again, the horse's heart rate was around 12, and even when he was in the most pain his heart rate never went above 14 (all HR's are per 15 sec.). 
    Just remember to look at the whole horse, and not be lulled by a normal heart rate.  I realize most people already know this, but just in case anyone is new to the sport, I thought I'd share my experiences.