Connected sensors now allow for the monitoring and evaluation of each horse’s physical activity, thanks to medical precision and a multitude of functions that can be tailored to the needs and objectives set.
The benefits of these tools are numerous, both in terms of sports performance monitoring and horse athlete health management. Their application in the veterinary field is now very broad: diagnostic support for chronic heart disease, injury prevention, optimization of daily horse management, …
But what are the real added values of these systems for veterinary diagnosis? How can these connected sensors be integrated into the daily activities of equine health professionals?
Collecting ECG during exercise – and at full speed
By collecting cardiac and locomotor data, embedded sensors are a valuable resource for performance monitoring and equine health management. However, some heart diseases are only visible during exercise.
Take the example of arrhythmias. These abnormal changes in heart rhythm can be life-threatening for equine athletes – especially when they occur during very intense exercise. Embedded ECGs are non-invasive tools for the horse. They are therefore a valuable diagnostic support for veterinarians.
Quantifying the effort intensity, workload and physical condition
By analysing the heart rate – and its variability – during training, the veterinarian can assess the horse’s state of stress or relaxation, as well as study the training typology, according to its physical condition. A multitude of questions can then be answered: Is the horse being trained properly? Is it over-trained? Or is it under-trained? The lack of objective data to answer these questions could have serious consequences on the physical and mental integrity of equine athletes.
The various parameters collected and analysed by the veterinarian allow a real in-depth and collaborative work between the owner, the trainer and the veterinarian, to individualise and optimise the training of each horse.
Build a reference database for each horse
The regular, or even daily, use of a connected sensor such as EQUIMETRE allows the development of a personalised reference framework for each horse. Indeed, many parameters are collected during each monitoring: recovery, maximum heart rate, amplitude, cadence…
This database, which is unique to each horse, is a key element in health monitoring, as it serves as a reference to detect potential anomalies. The example of the heart rate speaks for itself: based on the usual constants – specific to each horse – it allows the early detection of a change such as a sudden increase in heart rate during training, and therefore to act accordingly. The quality of recovery is also an important parameter. Take the data from this 5 year old gelding, subject to myositis:
Focusing on the recovery time to 120 BPM, we can see that the recovery from the 23/03 training session is poor. The quality of the recovery kept deteriorating on 26/02, despite a lighter training session.
You can access the full case here.
These connected tools bring significant added value to equine health professionals. Having a tool that can simultaneously measure cardiac parameters (heart rate, heart variability, ECG), locomotor parameters (stride length and stride frequency) and GPS parameters (speed, distance, altimetry) at the same time, enables data to be gathered to detect the early signs of pathologies.
However, including this service in everyday life is not always easy. How can the use of these sensors be integrated into the veterinary activity?
Offer additional services during the veterinary examination
- Optimize the classical veterinary examination:
During a classical veterinary examination, several parameters must be considered. Depending on the findings, several investigations can then be carried out. A system such as EQUIMETRE can add precision and allow a thorough evaluation of the working horse: locomotor analysis, flexion test, ECG and lactates, etc. This 360° view enables assessment of physical condition and performance during exercise.
- Analyse the exercising ECG on a regular basis:
As mentioned earlier, the analysis of the exercising ECG can be a necessary element for an informed veterinary diagnosis. When there is a doubt about a potential cardiac pathology, the use of the sensor during the veterinary check-up can also correspond to an additional service, unique or to be performed regularly during the year. This service can be implemented in different ways: regular or intensive work session, treadmill session,…
Remote case and rehabilitation follow-up
In addition to daily support in monitoring the horse’s physiological data, a connected sensor can fully embrace emerging practices such as telemedicine. By having access to all the data recorded during training, the veterinarian can monitor the horse remotely and assess whether it is necessary to intervene at the stable. The most common scenario is to leave your sensor at your customer’s facility – or to invite your customer to acquire a sensor – to be able to monitor all the data without temporal or geographical limits. With this in mind, EQUIMETRE facilitates skills centralisation and data sharing through its mirror account feature. This function allows the veterinarian to access all the training data of a horse, and therefore to be able to analyse its entire work history. The data are stored on a single platform, making it easy to analyse: an American vet can monitor a horse in France – with the ability to detect an arrhythmia – from his office.
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After fully integrating into the worlds of human performance and medicine, connected/embedded sensors are now making their way into the equestrian world. All the actors in the industry can benefit from them, since they can be used to monitor the horse’s performance in order to adapt its training, as well as to collect precious health indicators.
These tools will undoubtedly become an important part of the interpersonal relationship in the coming years, facilitating information sharing and communication between the various players: vets, owners, trainers, …
An inertial sensor-based system can objectively assess diagnosticanaesthesia of the equine foot – DOI: 10.1111/evj.1215826
Keywords: connected sensor, veterinarian, equimetre, ecg, veterinary exam