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Respirations can be elevated due to the horse trying to cool himself - ie panting. His respiratory recovery may be as much an indicator of cooling as it is for HR recovery, making it very difficult to interpret. If you can't hear his heart rate, ask a rider or vet to show you where you can feel his pulse. The two easiest places are on the left side behind their elbow (may be more difficult if he is hard to hear too, but I'm not sure) or under their jaw. (Then you have to teach them to not chomp and move while you are feeling their jaw for a pulse!!!)
I do not have a HRM and cannot hear it with a
steopthescope (I know, I spelt that wrong!).
So, I figured when we pull a hill I would use his respiration as a
recovery index but I have no guidance. Are there some guidelines someone can throw at me in regards to this?
Is this a good idea?
I agree completely with letting the horse recover at the walk. We use the walk as a recovery while still covering ground. A good working walk is vastly underappreciated for putting down the miles
A rider can easily condition without a HR monitor - technology is no replacement for horsemanship! You will learn to read your horse over time. OTOH, maybe you can find a monitor that is used for a lot less. (Every time I answer those kinds of ads, it was "just sold", though.)