Home 9 Heart rate 9 8 reasons to use a heart rate monitor

It is one of the most used measuring instruments by sportsmen and women. The heart rate monitor is a great ally in sports training because it allows the heart rate to be collected to the nearest second. In all sports, it has become an essential tool in the performance management of top-level sportsmen and women, and is particularly relevant to use in the training routine of a racehorse.

Here are 8 good reasons why it is particularly useful for racehorses’ training and monitoring.



The first reason to use a heart rate monitor is its ability to measure a horse’s maximum heart rate during exercise. This is the maximum number of beats per minute that a horse can reach during exercise. It is unique to each horse, decreases slightly with age but does not change with training and is not a performance indicator.

Nevertheless, it allows a better understanding of a horse’s work, to understand his effort and to make it work on heart rate ranges that are specific to him.

Knowing the maximum heart rate makes it possible to evaluate the difficulty of the work required by observing the percentage of the maximum heart rate at which the horse has worked. It is possible to define 4 main work zones corresponding to 4 levels of intensity. Training a horse in a particular zone will have a different physiological effect.



The heart rate measured by the heart rate monitor is of particular interest to trainers who wish to objectively assess the effort their horses put into training. Reading back cardio data during training provides an objective help to understand how and when the required effort has been taken up. What was the most difficult moment? How efficiently did the energy metabolism get going?

The heart rate monitor provides a reliable measure of the strain on the horse’s energy metabolism, as the measured heart rate (HR) assesses the suitability of the horse’s cardiovascular system for the intensity of a workload during exercise.


Using a heart rate monitor offers the possibility to characterize the recovery of a horse by monitoring the heart rate throughout an exercise and especially at the end of it.


Recovery is one of the main indicators of a horse’s fitness: the better a horse’s recovery, the better his fitness. Analysed in parallel with the intensity of the work required, a horse’s fitness is a good way of confirming whether a horse is ready to run. There are 4 heart rate zones to be analysed using a heart rate monitor to characterise the recovery of racehorses :

  • The work zone: this zone allows to quantify the level of heart rate reached during the effort. The difficulty of a workout can be assessed by observing what percentage of the horse’s HR Max has worked.
  • The deceleration zone at the end of work: the speed decreases significantly but the heart rate remains high. This zone indicates the intensity of the exercise.
  • The zone of rapid decrease in heart rate: the speed is considerably reduced and the heart rate decreases greatly. This zone qualifies the rapid recovery, capacity of recovery immediately after the effort: the aim here is for the horse to return very quickly to very low levels.
  • The zone of slow heart rate decrease: the speed is considerably reduced and the heart rate decreases slowly. This zone qualifies the slow recovery, and gives indications on fitness: the closer the heart rate reached the initial heart rate, the better the slow recovery.



The use of a heart rate monitor provides objective figures to support workload assessment. By having an objective view of the workload demanded of each horse it is possible to optimise performance by reaching a training intensity in the right balance between over and under training.

Under training is revealed by a heart rate monitor: the horse does not or hardly ever comes to work in areas of maximum heart rate. While under training can not only lead to poor performance in relation to the horse’s quality, it also represents a risk of injury during unusual maximum efforts, e.g. during a race.

Overtraining is characterised by very poor or deteriorating recovery levels. In veterinary analysis, the electrocardiogram (ECG) can show arrhythmias that are indicative of overtraining. Overtraining presents a high risk of injury to the horse if he works beyond his limits.

EQUIMETRE is a tool that allows the horse to speak at work. Physiological parameters will be measured and these allows to know if the horse is working in comfort and safety or not. When he has difficulties in training, either because he does not have the required qualities or because he has an underlying health problem, the parameters will be in the red and will be highlighted by EQUIMETRE – and this much more than if we rely on purely subjective criteria. The idea is to put numerical values on the trainer’s impressions and see if the abnormal values are repeated over the course of training, in which case this should become a concern.

Emmanuelle Van Erck

Veterinarian specialised in equine sport medicine, ESMP



Longitudinal monitoring of a horse’s heart rate allows individual training. For each horse, a heart rate monitor allows to build a table of reference data: we can then have in mind for each horse the max HR, the resting HR, the usual recovery levels according to the work. From this table, each training session is an opportunity to analyse the evolution of the recovery parameters in order to lighten or on the contrary increase the workload.

Individualising the workload is thus possible and forming lots according to the workload required by each horse can be a solution for individualising training.


Before the race, make sure that the horse’s progress is visible and that he has reached a sufficient level to have a good chance in the race. This work is greatly facilitated by EQUIMETRE as it allows you to keep a logbook of the horse’s data at work over time. This data is particularly useful for 2 year olds because it allows them to know from the start their physical condition, their level of recovery, and thus to see what is already positive in them or what needs to be improved quickly.

After the race, a heart rate monitor ensures that the horse’s condition has not deteriorated and that he has tolerated effort, transport and pressure well. It should be noted that heart rate is not the only parameter to be considered: to see the horse’s evolution over time, heart rate is at the heart of a whole set of parameters.



A sudden and unexplained increase in HR can be a sign of pain, stress, fear. HR spikes or unusual HR in the warm-up can be warning signs of disease.

A word from Emmanuelle van Erck, PhD and veterinarian : “Cardiac arrhythmias cause performance impairment and affect recovery. It is possible to look at the heart rate (HR) with EQUIMETRE to highlight abnormal HR and to have the electrocardiogram data collected by EQUIMETRE reviewed by your veterinarian to see if the horse has shown signs of abnormalities. Pulmonary haemorrhages will be noticed if the horse is bleeding from the nose, or if his heart rate has a longer recovery time after exercise because he is in deficit of oxygen. In this case, it is necessary to look if there is a problem with the lungs.

A horse with pain, tendinitis or bone-related pain, for example, may have an alteration in the way he moves, so the parameters of pace and stride amplitude will change with increased heart rate. By combining all the parameters that EQUIMETRE allows to measure, it is possible to see what is going on with the horse: is it a lack of quality? Is it an underlying health problem?”

gif of an ecg in real time live


Arioneo electrodes, a major technological development, can overcome three obstacles to the collection of the heart signal: the horse’s hair, the thickness of his skin, and the intense vibrations during exercise. Equimetre’s electrodes are made from a unique fusion of materials specially designed for the equine athlete. They are immersed in a foam that allows the horse’s perspiration to be absorbed, while ensuring good conduction of the heart signal by softening the contact with the horse’s skin to avoid injury. These electrodes are internationally patented.

The EQUIMETRE heart rate monitor automatically records the complete ECG for all monitored training sessions, even at full speed. This collection of ECGs is valuable for veterinarians as it can help them to detect cardiorespiratory pathologies in race horses, including arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillations. In her thesis “Etiology of sudden death in horses”, Nathalie CADEC explains: “ECG monitoring of cardiac activity during physical exercise (racing) in horses suspected of atrial fibrillation has made it possible to highlight the time of onset of atrial fibrillation.” The veterinarian can remotely access the ECGs from any training of his choice, including training prior to signs of disease, for comparison.

All in all, heart rate monitors represent a significant innovation for the sporting world, and they are all the more relevant in the equine world because they make horses talk. EQUIMETRE is therefore a partner in the well-being and performance of the racehorse.

Key words: racehorse heart rate, follow-up tool, maximum heart rate, effort intensity, racehorse heart rate evolution, assess racehorse training, racehorse energy metabolism, racehorse recovery, under training and over training, longitudinal monitoring, 2 years olds, state of fitness, heart and respiratory pathologies, cardiac arrythmias, racehorse electrocardiogram, ECG

Active recovery in Standardbreds’ training: what are the benefits?

Active recovery for Standardbreds is still relatively unexplored. Discover the best practices in terms of recovery to optimise your racehorses’ performance.

Racehorse VS running athlete: what role does data play in training?

Since 2007, data has spread in the high-level sports industry. So why shouldn’t the horse racing sector use data into its daily life?

4 reasons to analyze VO2Max in racehorse training

VO2Max is a key paramater to measure the intensity of a horse’s effort. It can be used to establish a race strategy, calculate the intensity of a training or to follow a racehorse’s performances over time.

Will genetic studies revolutionize the horse racing industry?

Discover studies and works realized up to this day on racehorse genetics. With our constantly improving knowledge of the subject, it might shape tomorrow’s horse racing industry.

Standardbreds: analyze an Interval Training session with Equimetre

Interval Training is a specific method of training the Standardbreds. Find out what data to analyze in order to follow this type of training.

The standardised test with Standardbreds: what goals?

The standardised test is an intense training aiming to measure the cardiac and metabolic capacities of a race horse’s organism…. Learn more about it.

Creating a Sports Science unit within a racing stable | Ciaron Maher Racing & Arioneo Webinar

Expectations, reality and results in creating a Sports Science unit in a racing stable. Discover Ciaron Maher Racing’s experience with EQUIMETRE and Arioneo.

Why quantify the racehorse’s training workload?

Discover why quantifying the racehorse training workload has become necessary nowadays: measure the progress, collect data, complete your feeling…

V200 and V4 | Understanding the heart rate zones of the racehorse

[lwp_divi_breadcrumbs _builder_version="4.9.7"...

5 key elements to analyze racehorses’ heart rate

[lwp_divi_breadcrumbs _builder_version="4.9.7" _module_preset="default" hover_enabled="0"...

The Lir Jet – A sporting and technological success

The Lir Jet, his rider Oisin Murphy and his trainer Michael Bell won the 2020 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and will contest the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

DATA & RUGBY: Interview of Thomas LOMBARD

This week, Arioneo had the opportunity to meet Thomas LOMBARD, General Manager of the Stade Français Rugby to discuss the arrival of data in the world of rugby and the improvements it has brought to this sport.

When to suspect arrhythmias in the racehorse and how to identify them?

Arrhythmias are abnormal cardiac rythm. In this article, Dr Emmanuelle van Erck explains when to suspect arrhythmias and how to identify it. 

Longitudinal monitoring of the racehorse’s fitness

As racehorses are true athletes, monitoring their health and performance is essential. In this article, we will explain why and how to adopt a longitudinal monitoring of racehorses.

ECG of the athletic horse

The electrocardiogram (known as ECG) is a veterinary tool that records the electrical activity of the heart. It allows to investigate and monitor the heart function of the horse by displaying the electrical activity of the heart.


Join us and discover how to analyse underperformance by using data with Dr Emmanuelle Van Erck.

Finding the right balance between under-training and overtraining

The horse’s team encounter a major issue in the training of racehorses: how to find the balance between overtraining and under-training?

EQUIMETRE, a scientifically validated tool

After more than a year of work, we are proud to be able to bring scientifically validated, medically accurate technology to our veterinary clients.

R&D process at Arioneo

Who is at the head of the R&D team ? Is R&D intern or extern? How are products scientifically validated? Discover everything about R&D at Arioneo in this video.

The standardised effort test for racehorses in practice

The standardized test of effort must reflect the reality of the effort of a race (e.g. an acceleration over 400/600m) without reaching its intensity.

Fan experience at the racetrack: what is the role of data?

In terms of sport marketing, the fan experience is the customer experience. It’s the way to build customer loyalty, reach new targets and attract customers to the stadium or racetrack.

New functionality : live ECG display

EQUIMETRE VET now provides you the live ECG of a horse during training thanks to its application available on smartphones or tablets.

Electrocardiograms : working with ECG at full speed

Here are the reasons why electrocardiograms are so important and to what extent EQUIMETRE VET revolutionise the way they are collected by vets.

5 reasons to adopt telemedicine

Veterinary telemedicine has many advantages. It is defined as “a form of remote veterinary practice using information

The revolution of data within sports

This article offers an analysis of the revolution of data within sports by drawing a parallel between soccer and horse racing.


Toutes les catégories

Data & Sport