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Heart Rate Monitor Review?

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  • Heart Rate Monitor Review?

    Hi all, sorry if this is one of those "every newb asks" questions...I did a search for "heart rate" and "HR" and couldn't find anything.

    I'm looking at an electronic heart rate monitor as my gelding and I enter the "50-mile prep" phase of our training. I suck with stethescope. I've been using it as we conditioned up to our upcoming LD debut, but would be happy to invest in an electronic system if it worked.

    Anyway, I'd like to hear what people think of the VMAX and Polar electrode systems. To me, the Polar looks a little smoother/flatter/slicker but I'd need a separate Receiver...VMAX looks very utilitarian/simple and would be compatible with my existing GPS system.

    Horse is VERY Princessy, his comfort is obviously key! We ride in a Dressage saddle with a mohair string girth, if that makes a difference.
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

  • #2
    I have the VMax and it's great. I do sometimes have trouble picking up the signal with my watch but it usually just requires a little more moisture on the electrodes. My set came from The Distance Depot as an xmas gift.

    The horse I use the VMax on is the ultimate queen of drama queens. She's the spokeshorse for the drama queen club. She absolutely will NOT tolerate anything that is uncomfortable, pinchy, itchy, or pokey. She has never objected to the VMax electrodes but then I ride treeless so there is no hard tree pressing down onto the lead. I don't know if that makes a difference?

    I also ride in a mohair or alpaca string girth and the girth electrode attaches beautifully. It just wraps around it with a simple stripe of velcro and it's set for the entire day.

    The batteries in both the watch and the monitor last forever. I use mine almost every ride and have only replaced batteries in the monitor maybe 2x in 2 years. Never replaced the watch batteries yet.

    Roger Rittenhouse is the master mind behind the VMax and he is extremely helpful if you run into any issues. When I first got my set, I could NOT get the watch to pick up the signal and he helped me with my watch settings.

    The watch is water resistant at least, if not water proof. It gets a LOT of water on it through sponging and river crossings and I have never had any trouble with it.

    I really can't think of anything negative to say about the VMax


    • Original Poster

      Thanks A2, you highlighted my concern too...the wither electrode. I'm hoping I can place it NOT under the panel...in the void under the pommel...

      Just a quick note, I'm really mostly curious about the electrodes themselves, as I will be using my own transmitter!

      Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


      • #4
        Originally posted by rugbygirl View Post
        Thanks A2, you highlighted my concern too...the wither electrode. I'm hoping I can place it NOT under the panel...in the void under the pommel...

        Just a quick note, I'm really mostly curious about the electrodes themselves, as I will be using my own transmitter!

        Well, it has to be back quite a ways for it to transmit. I place it right under my seat. And my horse has no pocket or void because she's a roly poly. If the horse has a protruding spine, then you have a little depression or pocket you can lay your hand in just below the spine, and that's where the electrode would go.

        But given how many endurance riders use HRMs, I tend to think that the top electrode isn't too much of a problem.

        Honestly I really was sure my horse would have a hissy fit over it, but she doesn't even notice it's there. And she is the one who can receive a telepathic message from a horse fly who lives 9 states away and start stomping and snorting just in case he might make his way over to WI before the end of the season.


        • #5
          Originally posted by rugbygirl View Post
          ...in the void under the pommel...
          Don't know if the "void" will work. Someone with more electrical knowledge than I would have to verify, but I believe the top (not the girth electrode) is like your ground. It goes under the panel so it has some pressure upon it. I don't believe it's the position of it more so than the pressure upon it to give back the ground for the signal.

          Anyone else? IDK, maybe I'm way off.

          At any rate I use the VMax conversion for the Garmin and LOVE it. I have the Forerunner 305.

          Here's a recent ride uploaded to Garmin's system:


          BTW, do post after you make your 50 with your Trak. I did 3 LD's on my dressage bred Dutch WB before buying a 1/2 Arab!


          • Original Poster

            The wither electrode probably does better with pressure on it...the VMAX website identifed that people often have trouble with the system if they can't keep the electrodes in place contacting the skin. Good to hear two positive reviews on it though, I think it's worth a try. The Polar one looks more packaged and like there is less freedom with what you can play with...the neoprene/fabric covers are larger.

            BTW, do post after you make your 50 with your Trak. I did 3 LD's on my dressage bred Dutch WB before buying a 1/2 Arab!
            Step one is the two LDs...it's in 2 weeks. Our conditioning has really gone well, but he's one of those cardio-fit horses that had to be babied a little for his ligaments and muscles to catch up. Heart rate is going to be more important as I start pushing for more speed consistently. I am HOPING to try the 50 this season, but I'll see how it goes over the next little while. I need to get a consistently better pace over the first three miles of my conditioning rides before I am ready to commit. If not this Fall, then in the Spring we should definitely be ready! He IS a Trak...if you ask any of the Hunter people around the barns I've been at, he practically IS an Arab
            Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior