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GPS Technology and the Eventer

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  • GPS Technology and the Eventer

    Check out this recent article on GPS watches and runners from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/20/he...ewanted=1&_r=1

    Some of you have mentioned using GPS technology. What are your experiences? Two things that come to mind are GPS watches to gauge pace (much like the runners in the article) and the CourseWalk app to map out a xc course and determine distance. My one attempt at using CourseWalk resulted in a wildly inaccurate reading.

    I haven't been in the eventing world that long. I can't tell you if I'm going 450mpm or 500mpm. My best galloping spot is a grassy stretch at a state park but I don't know exactly how long it is. It would be awesome if I could wear a watch that would spit out all this data as I go, but if a GPS watch is going to be off base every time then is it worth it?

    I'd love to hear thoughts and recommendations on this subject. TIA.
    The big guy: Lincoln

    Southern Maryland Equestrian

  • #2
    GPS watches are not off base but their data cycling rate is too slow at speed. The best thing to measure and train pace is to use the GPS to measure a length and then use your watch to measure time over that distance, repeating and repeating until you can make the distance in the time.

    GPS watches are useless on course.



    • #3
      I've used a GPS watch meant for runners when walking my course instead of a wheel. It worked well. Not as precise as a wheel would be, but perfectly fine for my needs.
      "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"


      • #4
        Originally posted by RAyers View Post
        The best thing to measure and train pace is to use the GPS to measure a length and then use your watch to measure time over that distance, repeating and repeating until you can make the distance in the time.
        This is something my trainer does with me and we revisit now and then. If we can hit the pace (trot and canter) within 3 secs we can move on to the next exercise. I feel like I got a 220 trot and a 350 canter in my bones. Then I go and get a new horse; time to start over again.

        I did use Coursewalk recently and found it worked really well with the Droid2 phone. That it displays the minute markers in a way that you can basically locate them visually is great. I don't ride with a watch (my brain is not that well trained) so having a visual makes it real easy to see if I am too fast or slow (in a general way). While I lean towards old school to learn basics, I don't mind augmenting that foundation with shiny toys...hey, I'm a geek at heart.


        • #5
          I have a GPS that I use for running, and I agree that it would be useless on course, and I can't imagine it would be very useful to "wheel" a course either. I ran a full marathon in November, on a USATF certified course (so as accurate as courses get) and according to my Garmin I ran 26.45-- so an extra quarter of a mile.

          This is no big deal when I am doing a 20 mile run at home. Ultimately it doesn't really matter whether I run 19.75 or 20.25 or somewhere in between. I just need the ballpark, and the GPS gives me that without making me wheel 20 miles of trails. But on xc where every second counts, no way.

          Plus, realistically on xc you are not going a consistent pace, because you slow down for the fences, then speed up in between. You do need to know how fast 450 and 500 feel-- but realize that you won't necessarily go either of them for most of the course. What Rayers suggests is the best way to learn it. That said, I am one of those people who rarely wears a watch xc (never yet since I moved up to P) and even more rarely checks it on course.

          Strangely enough my Garmin that I use in the car chose this weekend to melt down, stranding me in downtown Baltimore and forcing me to get directions from the sketchiest people ever. Not that I'm bitter!


          • #6
            Check out the MotionX GPS app for your phone. I use it when riding and have seen it used quite a bit for fox hunting. Really like the app!!!


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by RAyers View Post
              GPS watches are not off base but their data cycling rate is too slow at speed. The best thing to measure and train pace is to use the GPS to measure a length and then use your watch to measure time over that distance, repeating and repeating until you can make the distance in the time.

              GPS watches are useless on course.

              Thanks Reed, that's pretty much my current plan. It would be sweet to get a real time reading on my speed though!

              I wouldn't think to use a GPS watch on course. I barely remember to check the stopwatch.

              Originally posted by FoxChaser View Post
              Check out the MotionX GPS app for your phone. I use it when riding and have seen it used quite a bit for fox hunting. Really like the app!!!
              I have this app and use it for trail riding sometimes. I find it very complicated though! Maybe there are instructions online I should check out. I feel like there are a lot of features I'm not taking advantage of.
              The big guy: Lincoln

              Southern Maryland Equestrian


              • #8
                "Wheeling" courses with the GPS generally works well (there can be issues if the course is very hilly or under lots of trees). I have checked GPS measurements against wheels on many courses and haven't had any issues. Many TDs (me included) are now using GPS' to get the course distances that appear on your map.
                OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                • #9
                  Okay, I just got a visual of a rider with a Garmin strapped to the front of the saddle tearing around XC . . . Recalculating . . .
                  Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                  The Grove at Five Points


                  • #10
                    One of the problems with the cell phone GPS is that they are not true GPS systems. The cell phone GPS is based on calculating position from a llocal cell tower, not multiple satellites. Some of the GPS watches only 1 or 2 satellite connections to determine position.

                    I have a garmin etrex H which uses at least three satellites to calculate position and is pretty accurate even on a moving horse. I've used it to walk courses and it is very good.
                    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.