How Seaver can revolutionise your horse's training
Dale shares his experience with the Seaver Girth Sleeve:
It is not unusual for the Chaballo team to 'road-test' new products before we add them to our brand portfolio. This allows to a) confidently offer our customers a product that works, and b) know exactly how the product performs.
It was early in 2019 that I first heard of Seaver Horse Connected Equipment. Intrigued by the benefits I couldn't wait to get my hands on the Seaver Girth Sleeve. I had planned for Derby (Aurum Revoir) and I to make the step up and compete in our first Prix St George dressage test. However, as is always the way with horses, unforeseen circumstances can arise and in this instance, Derby was taken to our veterinary clinic and spent 10 days there due to an illness; once he had been discharged, he had to spend another 3 weeks in the stable with no work.
With Derby being in the clear, we were able to resume work and get back to accomplishing our initial goal of that Prix St George start. However, when saddling him up for his very first ride back, it became evident how much condition and muscle he had lost due to a month of no physical work. Whilst his overall weight wasn’t greatly impacted, his muscle tone around his back had reduced significantly and his fitness and aerobic capacity had also gone down.
Prior to this, we were training some challenging exercises (particularly for an eventing rider at heart) including canter tempi changes, canter pirouettes, half pass, and various other movements required at Prix St Georges level. Furthermore, we had the fitness base from which we could tackle these exercises on a consistent and regular basis during our training sessions.
It was obvious that with Derby's drop in fitness level and muscle tone we couldn’t simply pick up where we had left off. The question was how we could best devise a program that would enable us to progress from this point back to where we were prior to his illness?
I had already been using the Seaver Girth Sleeve and had found the device particularly useful for recording the progress of my younger horse during his jumping sessions. The jumping data the Seaver girth is able to record surpasses anything I had seen. Not only was it able to record his heart rate and time spent in each gait, but it also recorded each jump, showing us the heights and speed he was jumping, the hindlimb push symmetry during this and also the impact on his landing.
The device itself is simple to set up and easy to use. Admittedly the first time it does take a little bit of additional time to attach the device to the girth and set up the Seaver App on your phone but it is not complicated. Seaver provides the instructions and videos for the correct set up. Once the App is set up and the girth sleeve and wither electrode are attached, you simply hit 'Start' on your App and then ride. The biggest challenge on the first ride, is to really try to forget it is there, focus on your riding at the time, then analyse the data after.
I have found the best way to being able to analyse and make sense of all the data is to use the device 1 week a month and also make notes on each session of each ride including how we rated the performance and any particular notes of importance (at the end of each session, the Seaver app will ask you for this and record it). This is a great feature as it allows us to re-trace our steps and recall what our training sessions were like in the months prior. It is important to note that my observation of using the device once a month is only a suggestion and by no means the rule. The reason I do this is similar to that of an athlete or individual attempting to cut weight, they may be going to the gym 6-7 days per week. However, it is unlikely that they would be on the scales every single day.
In the case of Derby, I can see his data recorded in February 2019 where his average heart rate was 105 bpm, his trot symmetry was Left 50.3% / Right 49.7%, and in just under 35 minutes, he had burnt 4080 calories and travelled 8.2km.
In July 2019 (his third session back since his illness), his average heart rate was 123 bpm, his trot symmetry was Left 48.9% / Right 51.1%, and in 35 minutes and 7 seconds, he had burnt 5547 calories. Whilst the total distance travelled was lower, it also showed that with me wanting to keep the intensity down, I had spent 17 minutes and 48 seconds in the walk.
Evidently, I use the device to capture the key data of our performance at that time. I then compare it to where we have been in the past or at other times in similar campaigns or circumstances. I can see where the differences are, what I have improved on, and this proves as a guide to what I may need to focus on in our next block of training.
The way I use and think of the Seaver device is that of the black box in an airplane. It gives us the ability to accurately record key data during our ride but also analyse the data, just like Formula 1 teams analyse racing data on their cars so that they can further enhance the performance.
The Seaver device helps me to better prepare my horses for competitions and monitoring their general work programs. I have found that the device can be used beyond the scope of simply work and training, but also as part of a rehab program to increase our awareness of the horse’s physical wellbeing. So I am hoping that I will be competing a horse that is stronger, fitter and healthier than he has ever been in the past.
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