<% appTitle="Ridecamp Archives" %> Ridecamp: Re: [RC] heartrate as a stress indicator

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Current to Wed Jul 23 17:40:57 GMT 2003
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  • - Truman Prevatt
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    Re: [RC] heartrate as a stress indicator - Truman Prevatt

    On the other hand the only metabolic pull my mare had in many miles I noticed on the first loop that her heart rate was a tad higher than normal - here we are talking a subtle difference like 5 bpm. It would take it a little longer to drop at when we slowed, stopped for water, etc.

    I'm not talking about a point reading in the vet check here, but a couple hours of observation on the trails of reading that were not normal for the horse.

    When we get in I had the vet do a good once over - nothing really obvious - the guts were a little but not alarming. His pulse recovered quickly and his CRI was normal. I still didn't feel good about it because her heart rate is always about the same (within a beat) at the same speed (in the same terrain) and I felt something was not right and it wasn't.  I waited a half longer than the hold time and she started to show signs of colic which was cleared quickly with a little medication.

    The indicators were there from the first five miles - subtle as they were in the heart rate. If I had said, "oh, it's just a little hot today" and ignored what the heart rate was telling me, I might not have gone back out and had a real problem.

    The HRM does tell you something - every indicator tells you something. What it tells me may be subtle, just a few beats higher than normal at the trot, a minute longer to come down when you slow down (similar to what the CRI tells you), a little higher than normal at a walk, etc. I know to within a beat or two what my horse's hear rate should be when out on the trail.  If it's higher I'm going to be watching him like a hawk for reasons why.

    It is not the only indicator but for me it has always proved to be a valuable indicator. I sure the heck pay attention to it. The other indicator I find very valuable is the gut sounds, not the "grade" written by the vet on the card but the one I take during the hold. After all I know what my horses guts should sound like, the vet only sees him at rides.


    Debra Ager wrote:
    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.

    [RC] heartrate as a stress indicator, Debra Ager