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Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability of Amateur Show Jumping Horses Competing on Different Levels

Department of Feed and Food Biotechnology, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and Environmental Management, University of Debrecen, Böszörményi út 138, 4032 Debrecen, Hungary
Department of Hippology, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Szent István University Kaposvár Campus, Guba Sándor 40, 7400 Kaposvár, Hungary
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Mandy Paterson, Jane M. Williams and Gillian Tabor
Animals 2021, 11(3), 693;
Received: 11 January 2021 / Revised: 25 February 2021 / Accepted: 1 March 2021 / Published: 4 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Equine Training and Rehabilitation)
The increase in the heart rate and various heart parameters play an important role in assessing the fitness of sport horses. The fitness of a horse, that particular horse’s competition routine, and the resulting lower stress affect various cardiac parameters. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of the phases of competition (warm-up, resting period, show jumping course riding, cool-down) and the difficulty of a course (100, 120, 130 cm) on the heart rate and selected heart rate variability parameters of show jumping horses. The heart rate was monitored with a “Polar Equine heart rate monitor” before, during, and after a show jumping course was completed. Neither analysis of the average heart rate nor that of the maximum heart rate were able to detect a statistically proven difference among competition levels. In contrast, according to heart rate variability measures, such as maximum RR intervals, SD1, RMSSD, pNN50, and %VLF picked up differences in workload level. It has been confirmed that lower-class show jumping (up to 120 cm height) is not a strenuous exercise for horses.
Heart rate is one of the gold standards used to assess the workload level and fitness of horses. However, when slight differences need to be detected, it is not sensitive enough. Therefore, the aim of this study was to test the effect of competition level and phase of exercise on the heart rate and heart rate variability parameters in show jumpers. Fourteen horses were examined competing on three different levels: 100 cm (n = 4), 120 cm (n = 6), and 130 cm (n = 4). The length of work (min); average and maximum heart rate; average, maximum and minimum RR intervals (ms); SD1 and SD2 (ms); RMSSD (ms) and pNN50 (%); VLF, LF, HF (%) were analyzed. The measurement was divided into four phases: warm-up, resting period, show jumping course riding, and cool-down. The level of the course had no significant effect on average and maximum heart rates throughout the entire exercise. The maximum RR interval, RMSSD, pNN50, SD1, and %VLF values were significantly different (p < 0.05) in horses competing at 100 cm height from those competing in the 120 cm group. The SD1 value was sensitive for the level of competition, while the SD2 parameter was sensitive for detecting exercise phases. In conclusion, heart rate variability parameters are more sensitive for detecting smaller differences in workload than heart rate alone in lower-level show jumpers. View Full-Text
Keywords: horse; show jumping; heart rate; heart rate variability horse; show jumping; heart rate; heart rate variability
MDPI and ACS Style

Szabó, C.; Vizesi, Z.; Vincze, A. Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability of Amateur Show Jumping Horses Competing on Different Levels. Animals 2021, 11, 693.

AMA Style

Szabó C, Vizesi Z, Vincze A. Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability of Amateur Show Jumping Horses Competing on Different Levels. Animals. 2021; 11(3):693.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Szabó, Csaba, Zsolt Vizesi, and Anikó Vincze. 2021. "Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability of Amateur Show Jumping Horses Competing on Different Levels" Animals 11, no. 3: 693.

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