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“The Halsverlenger: How, What, and Why?” ~ Georgina Roberts

4998_normalEquilife and Western Shoppe will give one neck elastic away FREE to one lucky reader who likes, shares, and uses the #livingthelifestyle on any Equilife post in September. The winner will be announced on our Facebook page 1st October





At the same time, it is important to stress that there is no replacement for good schooling and conditioning. Your horse will ultimately need to learn how to balance himself and muscle up accordingly, with the rider’s seat and hands allowing and encouraging the correct progression. But where there is a fundamental problem and the rider is less than experienced, an alternate solution may help to speed this process up by allowing both parties to get the correct feel for such work. Also, do not assume that your groom or yard manager knows how to use a specific aid. Remember to also use well-fitting lunge equipment, gloves, and to place handler safety first. Also make sure that your horse is not resisting the work due to a physical problem, such as sharp teeth or ill-fitting saddle.

Artificial aids should not be used non-stop within a session, and should be loosened or removed to allow for walk breaks. Just as a human athlete needs a chance to allow blood back to his muscles, to make your horses’ training truly effective he too needs rest breaks. This will give him a chance to regroup and then continue working correctly once the artificial aids are reattached.




Halsverlenger (hals·fer·len·er) or neck elastic.


It is basically a high-tensile elastic that puts the main pressure on the poll, and secondary pressure on the bit. It stays at a set length and the horse finds the release as he drops his head, teaching him to stretch the back and neck, and strengthen the muscles in this position. It can be adjusted in length at the top of the poll, and ends in two clips.


A very ‘upside-down’ framed horse, or one that fights the direct contact of a side-rein. As the majority of the pressure in on the poll it encourages them to soften from there, right through the neck into the back. Particularly off-the-track type Thoroughbreds undergoing reschooling can learn to activate and strengthen the correct muscles with this, as often the most difficult part of reschooling is activating the correct muscle memory. It can be used when riding it can increase control e.g. for children riding school ponies – being an ‘unemotional’ aid (i.e. not controlled by the rider) the horse decides the amount of pressure and there is immediate release when in correct frame; the rider’s experience is not required to use this sensitively. By maintaining the horse’s frame, a certain degree of control is retained, which allows the rider to focus on their riding.


It should not be so loose that the horse is allowed to get his nose beyond the vertical, or pull the poll excessively high (in reschooling aim to have the poll at least the level of the wither), but not so tight that they are forced to shorten the neck and overbend, obstruct the airway, or panic. It might be necessary to adjust the length several times until the ideal length is found. It is also suggested that the elastic is loosened in between rein changes to allow the horse to relax and walk free before taking up the frame again.=


It can be used on the lunge, or can be used under saddle as mentioned. It is usually fitted over the poll, through the rings of the bit, and clipping onto a ring on the girth between the front legs. However, the clips can rather attach onto the sides of the girth, depending on what you are hoping to achieve – this could create a more ‘on the bit’ frame as opposed to a downward stretching frame.


Horses can get fatigued when fitted too tight or not allowed breaks to stretch and relax. This can lead to a ‘broken’ neck, where they bend the neck at the third vertebrae instead of the poll, leading them to hide behind the bit (i.e. carry the nose is behind the vertical) which would also drop the lower back. As with any aid fitted to the front end of the horse, plenty of riding from behind (or encouragement from the ground with a lunge whip) is needed to engage the hindquarters and get the horse to push through the body into the bridle

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Equine Heart Rate Monitor~ René van Son

A fit horse runs faster, jumps the last obstacles and has more power and stamina in a dressage test. But how to measure its fitness and progress?

 Instead of only observing a horse and guesstimating its condition, vets, trainers and owners can accurately measure the fitness status of the animal. By using a heart rate monitor and GPS, the measured heart rate (INPUT) and speed (OUTPUT) is displayed and registered. It gives you a tool to correctly determine the fitness of a horse and detect illnesses/injuries at an early stage.

Pacer EQ

Pacer EQ



Instruct Audio developed the Pacer EQ, a tool based on an existing Polar product that can measure the equine maximum heart rate. The Pacer EQ uses a leather girth-sleeve (proudly made in SA) with heart rate sensors and a Bluetooth transmitter sending the signal to the Polar watch. It allows you to read live heart rate and speed during exercise (riding, lunging). The watch stores the information, which can be analysed on a cell phone app on the spot and with a web service on a computer. The rider/trainer/vet can also use the watch for personal training by adding a chest strap; the watch and transmitter are already in the package.


Polar Girth


Peak performance

When a Thoroughbred horse is in rest, its heart rate is between 28 and 36 beats per minute. Per minute 35 litres of oxygen-rich blood flows from heart to muscles. This rate can go up to 225-240 beats per minute at maximum exercise. The cardiac output will then be over 200 litres per minute!



A tired horse will lose his action and be prone to tendon, joint and ligament strain. When any horse’s heart rate exceeds 200 beats per minute and approaches peak heart rate, the horse will fatigue within 10 seconds. No matter how much it is pushed, the horse cannot give any more. You can feel the effect of a cut-off blood supply and high lactate on your own body when you sprint 150 metres.

Recovery time

The goal of fitness training is to maximise the time the heart will supply oxygen to the horse’s body, postpone the saturation of the blood with lactate and extend the duration of peak performance. The result is better stamina, higher power, and more speed.

The best method of measuring the fitness of a horse is by looking at the recovery time. The data from the Pacer EQ show you the time it takes for the heart rate to go down from 120 to 80 beats per minute. The shorter the recovery time, the fitter the horse.

Tailored training

Heart rate monitoring allows you to train your horse specifically for stamina, power bursts or speed. The basis for quick improvement of overall fitness is interval training. To get a reasonable fit recreational horse to a competition level of fitness could take three months of training. This means that you have to plan 12 months ahead taking training periods, rest periods and major shows into account. For optimal fitness, you need three things: a sound horse, a HRM/GPS fitness monitoring system, and self-discipline to consistently measure and analyse fitness data.

To set up a training plan first consult your vet about:

  • the readiness of the horse for demanding training and;
  • if he or she can develop a training plan or has sources to use (books, internet, etc).


There are many equestrian websites advising on useful training programs. Before doing anything, remember that you and your vet know you horse best.


For further information about equine HRM and free articles, please contact René van Son of Instruct Audio on 072 578 5241 or