In our previous article (available here), we discussed heart rate in racehorses and the value of measuring it.


The maximum heart rate (or HR Max) is the maximum number of beats per minute that a horse can reach during exercise or training. This maximum heart rate is personal to each horse.

It decreases slightly with the age of the horse and is little influenced by training. Moreover, it is not correlated with the performance level of a horse. In the same race, it was shown that the maximum recorded heart rate of horses ranged from 204 to 241 BPM (Evans, 2007).


The maximum heart rate is personal to each horse.


In order to better understand the work of your horse, both work and heart rate ranges, it is necessary to assess the maximum heart rate at least twice during the season.



The maximum heart rate can be measured during an exercise where the intensity of the exercise will require a large energy input. Typically, a 70% to 80% maximum speed effort for at least 1600m or on a track with a positive elevation gain, or a force greater than 90% of the maximum speed for 600m.


However, in order to assess the speed at which the horse reaches its maximum heart rate, the incremental test will stop the effort when the maximum heart rate is reached and not push the horse unnecessarily. This test also makes it possible to evaluate the speed at the maximum heart rate.



The maximum oxygen volume (VO2 max) that a horse can use is one of the best indicators of the level of performance. In addition, the heart rate is strongly correlated to the volume of oxygen consumed by the body.

Once the HR Max is reached, there is very little left for the horse to accelerate and reach its VO2 max. This means that it has to tap into its other sources of energy to be able to accelerate.

However, as the other energy sources are limited in quantity when racing, a horse can hold its maximum speed for about 600 to 800 meters…