September 12, 2013

Heart Rate Monitors - Part 2

The monitor came in two parts and really simple instructions. Like most things in life, however, it was not so simple. There was a watch for me to wear with a display of the heart rate, speed and distance travelled. It worked ok, but lost the signal to both GPS and the electrodes easily. The second part was a strap with an electrode on either end. The distance between the two was astounding - I swear it could have wrapped around a bull elephant. Ok, maybe not that big, but much larger than any horse wearing a monitor would require. My small Gemmiecakes could have had it wrapped around her twice and still had excess.

I decided to try it out at the barn first which was both very smart and incredibly stupid at the same time. My first problem was that it was winter in WI which in general is a problem, but for this specifically it made applying the electrodes difficult. They needed to be against the skin. Gem in winter looks more like a yak than a sleek endurance machine and there was about a foot (ok...maybe 10 inches :) of hair between her skin and the electrode. I stubbornly refused to shave her, so I just cleaned the area super well and hoped for the best. The one electrode was to go under the girth and the other on her shoulder under the saddle. I was concerned about anything being smushed up against her causing rubs, but in the end I needn't have worried. She never had a sore from it. The main difficulty with this set up was the aforementioned long strap. With both electrodes tucked safely into place, I still had a large amount of strap to deal with. With no good solution coming to mind I ended up just placing it under the saddle and as expected it ended up coming loose about 30 seconds into the ride and annoying me the entire time. I never did come up with a good solution for it.

Once I had the entire thing set up I decided that it might be a good idea to turn it all on and see if it worked. It didn't. Huh. Apparently the instructions were missing one key element to the entire thing: a medium through which the current could work. Theoretically a horse wearing a monitor works hard enough to sweat. Sweat just so happens to be a great electric current medium with the salt and other minerals in it, so I suppose the manufacturer just assumed it would be ok. They overlooked one main fact: a yak horse just starting to work is not sweaty. Gemmie was drier than dry. Nothing was flowing through those electrodes. This is where my idea to ride at the barn was a smart idea: I had water readily at hand. Had I been out on the trail I would have been SOL. Go me! Unfortunately, this meant that I had to undo the tack to get the electrodes off her, soak them in a nearby bucket of frigid water, and then replace the set up and the tack. A major pain in the butt.

Once it was all back in place I turned it all on and was excited to see a signal from the strap to my watch. Now I could have information galore!

1 comment:

  1. Seems that patience and endurance go together! A.J.