We had the chance to talk to Fouaad Mirza, an international eventing rider, about his use of EQUIMETRE. Discover, through this discussion, how he trains his horses and integrates the connected sensor into his daily routine.
Could you please introduce yourself?
I am Fouaad Mirza, an eventing rider from India. I have represented India at the Asian Games, the Olympics in 2021 and the World Equestrian Games in September 2022.
I come from a racing background in India, as my family bred racehorses I grew up around horses and my heart beats for racehorses and racing. My father and my brother are equine veterinarians. I tried my hand at becoming a jockey at one point but then I was a bit too tall and heavy to continue for a reasonable period, so I had to change my plans! And eventing is quite similar to racing in many ways. Of course, we don’t go as fast but there is still a lot of speed and an adrenaline rush so that was probably one of the main reasons I decided to go down this way.
What motivates you the most in your daily activity?
I would say it is my love for horses. As I was lucky enough to grow up around horses, I spent almost every day of my life with them, so I think it is just working with horses and being around them which I find very rewarding. Developing a partnership and trying to get the best out of every horse is a challenge, and I enjoy that.
How did you hear about Arioneo?
In eventing, fitness is a key part of training. I was trying to find the best possible way to have my horses fit, to be able to quantify the data, and have a system where I could have all this data available.
I had used various heart rate monitors earlier which I thought were very basic. So I did a little bit of research on the Internet and when I came across Arioneo, I immediately called the contact person and wanted to get one.
What objectives led you to invest in a technological solution to monitor your horses? What were your main requirements for the choice of the product?
When we train eventers in Germany, we are very dependent on the weather and the underfoot conditions… I vary between interval training, doing five short bits of work up a steep hill or cantering for long periods at a time up to 20 mins but at a slow easy speed.
I wanted to look deeper into what I was actually doing, how hard I was working the horses and what I was getting out of it and whether I could find out if the horses were not going well as an early warning system so you can call the vet to examine the horse to forestall an injury which is possible thanks to EQUIMETRE.
How do you use the system on a daily basis?
I have been using it since the end of 2019, during preparation for events such as the Olympics and World Championships, but also once a week during training with horses that are slowly building up their fitness, depending on the level of competition. You really have to adapt to the horse and the way you prepare for a specific kind of event.
I put it on horses that are competing at 3, 4 and 5-star levels. Most horses have a lot of affinity with show jumping and dressage so they can do well at a 3-star level. But when you get to a higher level, you are pushing horses a little bit beyond their capability in terms of speed and distance in the cross-country phase.
In my opinion, the most important parameters are recovery, maximum heart rate, stride frequency and stride length. These readings give a lot of information about how the horse works, if he is feeling a little pain or if there are minor irregularities in the stride.
When I first got the device I had some data coaching with Charlotte (Data Success Manager), to know what to look for, and what is good or bad. And thanks to the articles that were shared in the mail, I learned a lot. If I have questions, I always call Charlotte and ask her to give me her feedback, about a training session or a competition. For example, if the heart rate is quite high while the speeds stay the same – with no jumping – what can possibly be the reason?
How has EQUIMETRE helped you? Could you give us one or more concrete cases?
Seigneur Medicott, the horse I rode at the Olympics and the World Championships, had sustained an injury during training in the summer of 2019 so it was very important for me to bring him back to peak fitness for such a major Championship. I really wanted to monitor him in order not to push him beyond the fitness level, to have quantified data to look back on and get a deeper insight and indication of how he was progressing with his Fast work…
Another case, Dajara, has lovely fluent movement and jumps really well, but she is a bit of a heavily built mare and doesn’t have a lot of thoroughbred blood in her pedigree. With her, it was very important to really know how much to do and how well I am training her without overdoing and overtraining. I was doing a lot of training going uphill, galloping around 650 meters to 700 meters up a hill at a very slow speed and was getting the heart rate up to 180 bpm, sometimes a little bit more. And then work with interval training, walking down the hill and then back up again.
Is there any aspect of the product that has been particularly useful?
What is very interesting is what you can gain or what information you get from EQUIMETRE. Of course, we always use our own judgment which is important, but it is also very helpful to have some factual data available on a platform, to go back to and analyse. As much as I use my judgment I now also have the data to support it and it is amazing to have it backed up by science. There are always articles that are coming out from Arioneo, mainly on race horses, but it is so beneficial to me because I can adapt them to my horses and my training system and techniques, like fatigue, recovery,… all these things are very similar.
Having that knowledge base for anyone who is interested to progress, as well as the customer support that helps you if you have any questions, queries or concerns. I think that is very useful because sometimes you have some equipment, which is too technical to use or data too technical to read. And then you’re pretty much out on your own on a limb, however, this is not the case with Arioneo.
I think it is a fantastic product, so beneficial for riders who really want to know about what they are doing and how they are training. It is a huge advantage to have such a device: you get so much information about what you are doing physiologically to the horse. You have the data to support it, and everything is gathered on one platform.
What do you think about the integration of technology in the sports world and in equine health?
Technology is something that is coming into every field these days. Sometimes it can be slightly complicated to understand and use it, but once you get to grips with it, it is quite fun to use and very interesting because you learn a lot.