Fun with Metrics

Like any self-respecting nerd, I’m am really really into metrics. I also have a huge interest in equestrian-related technology. So when Seaver had a Kickstarter for their smart girths and girth sleeves in summer 2016, I was all aboard that train. Equisense was pretty much already complete and on the market by that point, but it didn’t have heart rate monitor capabilities, whereas Seaver did. Being an eventer, heart rate data is pretty huge to me, so I opted to invest in the Seaver, knowing that it could be a year or so before it came. Yeah well… it’s been almost 2. They did recently confirm my shipping address though, so maybe I’ll get it before summer. Who knows. Honestly as long as all the functionality works correctly and it’s well-made, I’m cool with the wait. That’s my official stance anyway.

Image result for waiting gif
how I really feel

Lots of other bloggers have the Equisense, and I always stare a little too intently at their data. It’s really interesting to me. Eventers… we love times and speed and symmetry and all that stuff. And then last week Leah posted about a free app called Equilab, which boasts some of the same features. I downloaded it pretty much immediately. Because toys.

Image result for equilab app

Basically the app uses the sensors on your phone to calculate and track your ride, so you have to either wear it on your arm or put it in a pocket. My phone is usually shoved in my pocket when I ride anyway (since I ride out, and I ride alone), so it’s just a matter of turning the app on and hitting “start riding” when I mount.Β The app has metrics for total ride time, time in each gait, turn direction, beats per minute, total distance, speed, elevation, energy consumption, and stride. It also paints a fun little GPS map for you that looks pretty damn artistic. Over time it gathers and accumulates the ride data to show “trends” or comparative metrics.

Yep, that’s definitely how our dressage looks…

Naturally my first thought was that there’s no way it’s capturing all of that data accurately just from using the phone’s sensors and GPS. And from my observations so far (I’ve used it for 4 rides, of varying type), that’s true. I’ve kinda just tossed out the beats per minute and stride data. It’s definitely not accurate. I’ve also noticed that it has a really hard time picking up on quick transitions. For instance, my dressage ride yesterday included a whole bunch of quick-succession trot/walk/trot transitions and it picked up none of them. I think when it’s less than 15 to 20 seconds, it’s not capable of catching it. Or maybe it just thinks my transitions are shit. That’s possible too.

those first two blocks of walk and trot had a lot of transitions, none of which are shown.

So the gait graphic in general also isn’t super useful to me for rides like that. For conditioning rides, however, where I’m not swapping back and forth between gaits a lot, it seems to do a respectable job of measuring the big chunks.

pretty close to accurate for the totals

What it struggles with in those rides, though, is the “turn direction” data. I think because I ride in such a huge space, it’s just not registering the turns. When I ride in a smaller space it picks them up fine (although it also measures the turn data by way of cumulative time, which I don’t like and find kinda useless). I pretty much have to throw that data out, too. It’s interesting, but I definitely wouldn’t hang my hat on it. I always do the exact same thing both directions for conditioning rides anyway, so I don’t really need it.

What I DO really like Equilab for is total time, and time spent in each gait, especially for those conditioning rides. I mean… I do those rides with a specific plan in mind for how long my sets are, but it’s nice to have the metrics to back it up, and to be able to store them over time and look back on exactly what you’ve done. For logging purposes, especially tracking the length of rides for the purposes of fitness, the app is great (should also say, I’m in an area that has excellent GPS coverage – your experience may vary if you are not in such an area). I like that you can also input things at the end of the ride like how the ground was, how you and the horse performed, and what type of ride it was.

Dr = dressage, Car = conditioning, Po = poles (which I used for a small gymnastics day)

I did notice that the Android version looks different than my iPhone version. How different, I’m not really sure, but Leah had a few different things on her version than I do on mine. I kinda like hers better.

So is this thing a good replacement for something like an Equisense or Seaver? Definitely not. It’s capabilities are pretty limited. Then again, it’s totally free. It’s definitely at least worth the download to play with it or to use as a data logging system for your rides.

21 thoughts on “Fun with Metrics

  1. I finally logged a ride last night with mine. While I know I have a tendency to do more right than left turns, it made it seem way worse than I’m pretty positive it was considering the exercise I worked on for the biggest chunk of the ride had 2 rights and 2 lefts. I’m glad to hear your hypothesis for it not picking up big space turns because my ride definitely supports that. More tests are definitely needed. I can’t wait to see all of the data comparison from this app from various people!

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  2. Unrelated, but sort of related, question:
    For your runs, what apps do you use? What do you listen to? As the weather improves here, I thiiiiiiink I might force myself to start running. It makes me feel terrible but I think if I push through itll be great for my disgustingly competitive nature if I compete against myself and not whatever sucker takes the elliptical next to me at the gym. πŸ˜‚

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    1. I don’t log metrics for my runs. I have a couple of set routes that I know the length of and I just go according to however I feel that day. I can’t do metrics with running, it takes a crazy turn in my head for some reason LOL. As for what I listen to, I have a playlist set up on Spotify for running.

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    2. just inserting my 2 cents – i got a garmin with a heart rate monitor. it was soooo worth it. the garmin app is great, it holds gps really well even in a city and is very accurate. i found it more accurate than running apps on my phone for it. with the heart rate monitor i gathered all kinds of great data and the app can export it in different formats and I started making fun graphs of my heart rate improvement over time… i highly recommend.

      also helps you track how many miles you put on your shoes!

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      1. Thank you both! I’m a crazy person that likes to know distance, fitness level, etc. I need to see concrete, physical progress to keep myself going. (Read: Crazy competitive) I’ll look into that app, thank you Megan!

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  3. i used to use a ride tracking app a couple years ago but it would always glitch out if i got a text msg or phone call, or wanted to take pictures or something. like it “interrupted” the ride or something. idk. for some reason, and this is a little odd for me, i haven’t been particularly interested in getting more sophisticated tracking apps for my rides. maybe i will later if we need to get more serious about fitness or something, but for now i’m kinda like you with your running – we have a couple set routines that i know the basic time / distance for, and that’s been working well enough. good to know that this app is so useful for covering the basics tho!

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    1. I think it’s mostly because I have to be so meticulous with my horse’s fitness, due to his issues in higher temps and his SI weakness. Granted, once we started eyeballing Training, I buckled down a lot on his schedule as well. The Novice 3 Day was really the catalyst for me becoming a little more disciplined and regimented about everything. For a lower level horse or someone less… intense? than me, I can understand not being as interested in it. lol

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  4. Yours definitely looks wayyyy different than mine. Although I got a kick out of your dressage ride “scribbles” haha. It’s been too wet for me to play with it any more after my initial rides, so I’m chomping at the bit to do more tracking. Most of my rides are in the arena (by necessity), and it seems to pick me up fairly well there.

    It’s definitely not comparable to data logged with an equisense (or hopefully the Seaver), but I’m enjoying it and I feel like I got my money’s worth πŸ˜‰ the ride notes is really gonna be the strongest point for me, because I’m super bad at recording stuff like that after the fact, so I’ve started doing it while I’m still sitting on the horse, so hopefully that sticks!

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    1. You can definitely tell that I don’t ride in an arena!!! My scribbles are hilarious. I have a dressage lesson tomorrow, in a real ring, so I’m interested to see what those scribbles look like.

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    2. I guess this is a question for you too, but can you use it in airplane mode as a battery saving measure? I usually track my rides with Endomondo which gets me distance and speed but doesn’t break it down into anything specific. With that I can stick my phone in airplane mode and still use the GPS with the app and save battery. Plus I don’t have good actual cell coverage where I ride so this is equally necessary.

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      1. I have no idea — but the app is free, so worth a shot? I downloaded it and tracked a ride before I bothered to set up profiles for myself and my horses, so if I didn’t like it I could just delete it again. I have good service at my house (where I ride) and my current rides aren’t long enough to worry about draining my battery, so it wasn’t something I explored.

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      2. I’ve never tried it in airplane mode. I haven’t noticed that the app really drains the battery, but then again, I have good GPS and cell coverage where I’m at.

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  5. I’ve been using the Equilab app for a little while now too. I really like it so far (also, because it’s free and requires only me hitting start/stop). I like that it shows the duration of time spent turning in either direction, I find it pretty valuable when I’m having a very crooked ride day (ahem, yesterday) and I can see that I really tried to work on that!

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    1. Oh, that reminds me! I do wish it had pause capability, for people like me who have to get off to set jumps. That stuff ends up showing up as walking or halt time in the calculations. I haven’t gotten any good use of the turn data though, mostly because I haven’t found it to be accurate for me. We’ll see how it looks tomorrow when I’m actually in an arena.

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      1. You might drop them a FB message about adding a “pause” function — they’ve been SUPER responsive to me when I’ve had questions/suggestions. Whether or not the implement the suggestions regmains to be seen, but they’re really open to feedback about ways to further develop the app πŸ™‚

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  6. I really really liked the look of Seaver – even just for general fitness and you weren’t using it for eventing, I was super intrigued by it and wanted to try it but alas….I couldn’t do the kickstarter at the time. But I’m definitely going to grab the Equisense and Equilab and see how they do since they are free. Even if Amber and I aren’t doing much lol.

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    1. Equisense isn’t free, it has a sensor that hooks on the girth and feeds data to their app. Really similar to the Seaver but without the heart rate data. The Equilab is free. It’s better than nothing!

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  7. I’ve been using Equilab for about a month, and I definitely find it useful for the overall time spent in each gait, but I agree, it is definitely not a replacement for the Equisense (or Seaver). But also free. I’m fascinated by the data gathered from the Equisense though, and would really love to upgrade, but for now, free is about all I can manage.

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