“Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.”
- Edgar Allen Poe
Oh, the joys of being naïve. You know that point in a new interest/hobby when you have just enough knowledge to be dangerous? You are gung-ho about it and want to do it right, but you actually have no clue what that really entails or means? What do you do? You turn to books, the internet and friends who have been at it longer than you (not hard since you just started) and ask so many questions that they are no longer your friends. The onslaught of new information makes your head spin and you pick a spot and jump on in head first hoping that the pool is filled with water. Later, you look back in disgust at all the money and time you wasted on useless things, but it is all necessary to help you figure it all out.
That was me in the winter of 2011. I was a newbie to the endurance world, but I was hooked and I wanted to do it right. Endurance places a unique amount of responsibility on the rider - you are not only responsible for your own fitness and nutrition, but that of your horse as well. You don't have to worry about that with a bike or running shoes. I take that responsibility very seriously. If Gem gets hurt, it is my fault. She didn't wake up that morning and decide to trot for 10 hours. She wanted to bask in the sunshine eating herself into diabetes. It was my idea and because of that I need to make sure we do it right.
I went to the internet and books for help and found a whole world of useless gadgets that were deemed absolutely essential for proper endurance riding. Never mind the fact that we completed 50 miles without all that stuff. Now that I knew it existed, I had to have it. I could no longer plead ignorance. One gadget that seemed promising was a heart rate monitor. Many touted the usefulness in both training (use target heart rates as goals) and monitoring how the horse is doing during a ride (a sudden spike in heart rate may be an early warning sign of pain or fatigue). I got a basic, entry level unit for starters and prepared to be inundated with charts full of useful data that would get me across the finish line in tip top shape.