Equilab is an app available for iphone, android and smart watch (Android wear 2.0 – not yet available on apple watch) that tracks your riding and training – the premise of the app is to input your horses information, and ride with your phone in your pocket (or anywhere that is secure!) to track the length of time you’ve ridden in walk , trot and canter, your turn distribution, speed, and distance to name a few of the features.
Getting started – I downloaded Equilab from the app store, it is completely free with no in app purchases so from this alone I thought it was worth looking at! Beginning with your information; you can add your stable, the app asks to use your GPS location. This is to track your movements when your schooling and out hacking. I thought this was a cool feature and didn’t mind doing this but if you wanted to keep your yard location private you could just turn the GPS off and use the other app features. The only other information you add for yourself is weight – this is to calculate how many calories burned during your ride ( I think!).
Horse information – you can add multiple horses to your ‘stable’ and for each one you add a little bit about them such as; breed, gender, discipline and birth date. You also add ideal weight and weight of equipment, bear In mind for both of these sections the weights I entered were educated guesses! After riding the app produces a graph and information based some what on values you have input – letting you know the horses energy consumption and heart beat per minute (BPM) (You also get a lot of other information which I will get to in a second!). I will say if you want the output to be more accurate then inputting the exact weight of the horse and tack is advisable. On the FAQ’s section of the Equilab website it states that as it knows what speed and gait you are riding , as well as the information you have placed they can calculate energy consumption based on these facts. However they also go on to say that you should use this information as a recommendation only as each horse and rider partnership is different and these outputs can never be 100% accurate.
Using the App – I found the app very easy to use. When you get on you tap the ‘go riding’ button and then select which type of activity you are doing that day. For example you can select flat work, hacking, walk trot or gallop training, show jumping or pole work to name a few. I mainly used the flat work or hacking features but can see uses for them all. Whilst your riding the app tracks your gait, speed, stride length, elevation, turn distribution and distance travelled. Once you’ve finished riding a summary is produced of these bits of information and show cased in simple graph form so its really easy to look at and compare with previous training sessions. I also loved the feature that showed you how long you spend in each gait, until using this I felt like I was trotting and cantering for a lot longer than I actually was! Another really useful feature to aid in training is the turn distribution information. I have always thought I rode evenly on both reins for near enough the same amount of time but this showed me I actually spent double the amount of time turning left than I did right! This could also be useful information to know from a therapeutic point of view as I come across so many horses that have one side stiffer than the other even though the owner swears blind they school equally on both sides! The speed and elevation outputs could be very useful for people training for eventing and endurance, to help adapt a more ‘interval training’ style of fittening with an easy tool to log it. Probably my most favourite feature of the app is a snapshot you get after you’ve ridden of the movements you have ridden, and each line is coloured depending what gait you where in at the time (pictured below). I found this interesting to see how much of the school I was using, which movements I favoured … and how un-circular my circles actually where! I could also tell on some days that I wasn’t fully in the schooling mode as the pictures I got at the end looked like something a toddler had drawn! Imagine having to show these stats to your riding instructor every week to show them what you had been up to .. it would definitely make your schooling improve!
Pros and Cons – I think the biggest pro of Equilab is that there is nothing like it out there aimed at equestrians. There are several bits of technology to track human fitness and training such as fit bits or other apps like run keeper that people use to track there fitness goals and log improvements. It is great that someone has adapted this technology to riding. Its easy and fun to use, and definitely gave me an incentive to think more about what I was doing when I was schooling. I learnt a lot about my riding whilst using it (mainly that I don’t ride for half as long as what I actually think I have!). Other benefits of the app are it lets you add more than one horse so you can compare schooling sessions between all of your rides. It also lets you connect to other riders in your area which is something I didn’t try so will have to continue exploring that.
It is available in seven languages so accessible to lots of riders and the information outputs are simple to understand (even for me who hasn’t looked at a graph since high school!).
Some improvements I could suggest are the accuracy of some of the outputs like BPM and daily feed requirements. I am not sure how accurate the results are that are given so I would use these as a guide only. How ever I think it helps if the information you are putting in is spot on – such as yours and your horses weight. I just approximated this.
The aim of the app as told by the creators is to ‘discover your training patterns, track your training and compare action with results’. I think you can definitely achieve all of this using Equilab , and as its free and easy to use it is well worth a download!