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Newbie questions: heart rate monitors and memberships

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  • Newbie questions: heart rate monitors and memberships

    Eventer here looking to play hooky for a year and try some distance riding instead. I'm finding lots of great resources to get me started/answer my initial questions, except for one...

    ...does one need to be an AERC or ECTRA member to participate in rides that those two organizations respectively sanction? Or are the rides open to all and being a member just means your mileage gets tracked, etc.?

    Also I find myself with a much larger than expected REI dividend this year and wonder whether I should consider using it for a heart-rate monitor/GPS instead of going with my original plan (all the SmartWool socks my little heart desires...)? Or would that be ridiculous overkill for someone who's looking at limited distance and maaaaaaybe a 50 if everything else goes well?

    I admit I really like the SCIENCE aspect of conditioning, so the tech appeals to me and using the dividend is probably the only time I'll be able to justify that kind of money for a toy. But I also like socks. :-p Please advise?

    "The present tense of regret is indecision."
    - Welcome to Night Vale

  • #2
    Newbie here too, but I do know the rides are open to non-members, but those miles will be lost if you decide you love the sport and stick with it. What you can do though is join ECTRA (that's your local club, right?) to have those miles logged, if you do love it, you can pay the dues for AERC before the end of the season and then those miles will be captured.

    And I am a sock junkie too, so I that's a quandary......but if I had the money, I'd byuy the toy .


    • #3
      AERC miles are never lost. They appear under the rider's name (and horse's name) whether the rider is a member or not. However, membership really has it's benefits, so if the rider becomes interested in the sport it is worthwhile to become a full member to get the monthly magazine and not have to pay non-member fees at the AERC rides.

      I bought a Polar HR monitor shortly after I stopped eventing and knew I wanted to do endurance as my sport. Best decision ever - I REALLY needed it for my guy who ran a high HR when he was all charged up. It allowed me to know exactly when to throttle him back so he didn't go anarobic, and when I could push him a bit harder. Plus it instantly showed me how close I was to parameters for the vet check, and I could slot exactly when to walk him up to the Pulse Taker so that he'd be right at parameter without losing a second of time that you'd be losing using a stethascope (important for when you are looking to top ten, or just don't want to be hanging in the pre-check area forever). A couple of times I used the monitor on myself - just putting the electrodes far enough apart on my body to register the electric pulse of my heart. It was so cool!! What I learned about my heart was amazing.

      The GPS is a super little tool for telling you exactly how fast (MPH) your horse is moving, how far you've gone, the elapsed time you've been on the trail, and for later downloading your trail to the internet so you can see exactly what you did and where you went. I found the Garmin Forerunner 201 wrist GPS is unobtrusive, not subject to accidental "button hits" (as some of the other units were - gahhhh!!), has a long battery life, and picks up the satellite signals fairly quickly and easily - if you're not under too heavy a leaf cover. You can find one used on eBay for about $90 on up. I have two - one for my biking, one for my walking/riding. I got my second one off eBay for about $75. Love them both!

      Both have value and worth even outside the distance riding venue. So I'd say go for it. You can always ask for smartwool socks for Christmas (like I do! )
      Last edited by gothedistance; Mar. 28, 2013, 11:09 AM.


      • #4
        I don't think the miles are lost after the end of the season. I think once you join even if it has been many seasons, the mileage will still be there and be updated. You can check the AERC.org and see what it says, or just call or email them.

        As for a the HRM, it is not necessary to have one. Nice, but totally not necessary. Back in the day when I started (1990's) not many folks had them. Yes the technology has come a long way and things are also less expensive. The one thing you really need to learn about endurance riding is to learn your horse, and read and rate his/her signs. Learn how to take his/her pulse, respiration, cap refill, etc and learn what those signs mean - if you don't know already. Too often people use a HRM as a speedometer. Before you go out and invest lots of $ in endurance, start conditioning, and see how you like it. Maybe go to a few rides and see how it goes. Eventer's are very tough cookies :-). I have ridden with eventers. Praise praise for them btw. Any equine can be ridden endurance.

        Endurance has it's rules, but not many. There are no horse, tack, equipment, requirements. Just you have a sound horse when you start and end. He should be fit to continue. You don't even have to ride the horse. Being first is just as important as being last. To finish is to win. Nobody will chastise you for your clothes, type of horse, tack, trailer, hair, or what lead you are on. You do not need a trainer either. It is all on how your horse reflects how you rode him. Go to a ride and scribe for a vet. Very different venue than a fancy rated show.

        CTR is a different ballgame. There are rules to be followed.

        I have a basic Polar with the night light HRM, and a Garmin 305. I always wear the 305, but not always the HRM. When it comes to the HRM, too many bells and whistles on it can be a hassle. A simple read out is nice. The 305 you can set up to do the HR. I also started with the 50's, I have done a few LD's later in life.


        • #5
          Sorry, I must have misunderstood my mentor. She told me I could wait on the AERC and pay before the end of teh season so I don't lose this summers miles. I'll have to ask what she meant. Hmmm, Maybe you can't use them toward awards for that season is all she meant, and that would make sense.


          • #6
            One thing that wasn't mentioned on benefits of AERC membership - I believe that the ride entry fee for members is always lower than for non-members... so you can do a break-even depending on how many events you might enter this year. Personally I really like the monthly magazine too - for its articles and posted results - which is included in membership.

            Also on the HRM, the hand-held transmitter and watch receiver are handy for any day in-barn use when you are monitoring your horse's health for some reason. Good accurate read to report to vet. Socks won't help you there! When I bought mine (Polar) there was a good price for 3-piece kit: on-saddle transmitter, hand-held transmitter and watch receiver.
            It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


            • #7
              HA - go ahead and get a membership. That way you'll start getting the monthly magazines, have yourself and your horse(s) registered and online, and be in the know for all things endurance related.

              Waiting gets you nothing.


              • #8
                Originally posted by GotMyPony View Post
                One thing that wasn't mentioned on benefits of AERC membership - I believe that the ride entry fee for members is always lower than for non-members... so you can do a break-even depending on how many events you might enter this year.
                All AERC sanctioned rides will tack on a non-member fee ("Day Fee") to the entry fee to cover the cost of insurance, and for recording the horse/rider miles in the AERC database. The entry cost itself is no different, as AERC members aren't charged a fee. I think the breakeven is five rides - after that it costs more in accumulated fees by being a non-member if a rider continues competing as a non-member. If you're going to ride a few rides, you get far more benefit by becoming an AERC member anyway.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by gothedistance View Post
                  HA - go ahead and get a membership. That way you'll start getting the monthly magazines, have yourself and your horse(s) registered and online, and be in the know for all things endurance related.

                  Waiting gets you nothing.
                  Excellent point!


                  • #10
                    Some more NE region information

                    Hi Tucked Away!

                    Where are you from? Is Yankeeland somewhere in New England? ;-)

                    I think you've gotten a lot of good advice but want to clarify at least a couple of things.

                    ECTRA (www.ectra.org) sanctions CTRs and also cross-sanctions endurance rides. Currently, your AERC Limited Distance miles won't count until you've completed 150 miles of ECTRA CTR.

                    CTRs are a great way to learn but you'll generally need to move at a slightly quicker pace to complete than you would at an AERC Limited Distance ride and there are a few more rules.

                    In AERC (www.aerc.org), if you join, your LD miles as well as your endurance miles will count right away, you'll get the monthly magazine, support trails and education and research. If you ride in AERC rides without being a member, we'll love having you, but the AERC charges a $15 non-member fee which the Ride Managers typically pass on to the riders. With the cost of new membership currently discounted to $63.75 (thanks to our sponsor EasyCare, which makes EasyBoots), once you attend a few rides, the fee has paid for itself. And the magazine is pretty excellent, especially if you are new to the sport.

                    In the NE we have a NE AERC Facebook page to help us stay in touch with one another, ask questions, etc.

                    I'm glad someone answered your question about HRMs. I have never really gotten into using them, so rather worthless on that one.

                    Don't hesitate to drop me a note if you have questions. I'm one of the regional directors for AERC in the NE region, and I'm happy to help you out -- let me know if I can help you find a mentor or clinic or introductory ride in your area. The website has tons of educational information too.

                    Of course, I want you to join! :-) You will LOVE it!

                    --Patti Stedman (procompsvc@earthlink.net)

                    PS I love smartwool socks. Wearing them as I type this, but I'd never trade them for my AERC membership. :-)


                    • #11
                      You've gotten some excellent advice here so far. As another eventer-turned-endurance rider, welcome!

                      Regarding heart rate monitors, I have never used one. Honestly, I've learned so much just from paying attention to how my horse feels under me, and I feel like if I had an HRM, I'd be so busy watching it that I would be less attuned to my horse. (yes, I've ridden with people like that. They watch the HRM but don't listen to their horse, and then they end up getting pulled.) I do have a Polar handheld one that I keep at the holds so I don't have to mess with a stethoscope.

                      However, I did treat myself to a GPS (Garmin Forerunner 310xt) this past winter, and I have to say, I'm kind of obsessed with it
                      RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.