From Endurance to Dressage
Last week, I wrote about the app, Equilab. I am now using it every time I ride. If you were interested the last time I wrote about it, go get it! It's totally worth the price. It's free, so even if you hate it, you're not out anything except a few minutes of your time.
Now that I've been using it for a full week, I have new data to explore. Some of it doesn't mean much to me, but one feature in particular is really telling. Right now, my favorite thing the app does is measure my time spent tracking left and tracking right. I don't know exactly how the app knows which way I am tracking, but it does seem accurate. In the image below, from April 8th, it's clear I spent more time turning right, twice as much time according to the app.
The next day, I paid much better attention and was able to even out my right and left turns. Whether the data is exactly right or not isn't as important as recognizing that I was working in one direction more than another.
When I looked at my trends for the week, my turns distribution was much more even. Had anyone asked if I work both directions evenly, I would have said sure, but since using the app, I've discovered that I might not be working both sides evenly.
Another trend I've noticed is that I don't spend nearly as much time cantering as I think I do. Ever since my endurance days I've logged either my miles or my ride time. During the week, I aim for rides that are 20 to 30 minutes long. I work full time, volunteer, cook, write, and do a lot of other things, so that's usually all I have time for. On Fridays, I might spend up to 40 minutes in the saddle. Saturdays are my longest rides because of my lessons, and Sundays will vary depending on how well I can implement what I learned from the day before. Even so, cantering is a much smaller percentage of my ride time thanI thought. According to the app, last week we cantered for about 13% of the time.
One limitation I've discovered with using the app is this: When I take a virtual lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trader at STC Dressage, I can't use the Equilab app because I am using the Pivo app on my phone to do the lesson. To use the Equilab app, you have to carry the phone on your person. My phone can't be in two places at the same time. I am looking forward to the next time that I ride with Sean in person because then I'll be able to carry my phone in my pocket which should give me some interesting data to study.
Another feature I really like is the ability to write a note describing the ride. For the ride on Sunday, April 16th, I left a note explaining why I only "rode" for 2 minutes and 18 seconds. Since I used the Pivo to record my ride, I turned on the Equilab app for the walk from the tack room to the arena so that I would get credit for the ride.
Right now, Equilab is running two different challenges. One is a distance challenge, which I am going to fail. Since I can't use the app during lessons or on days that I record my rides, I don't get credit for the miles ridden. It's not a big deal as I don't really care; it was more about having fun. The second challenge is from Horse & Hound, and it's about how many days a month you ride. I chose 20 as my goal, but that was before I realized I wouldn't get credit on lesson days or Pivo days unless I logged those 2 minute "rides" as we walk up to the arena.
If you need a bit of motivation or you're just bored with the same routine day after day, check out this app. It really is fun, and if used consistently, I really think it has the potential to improve your riding effectiveness.
If nothing else, it's fun to try and cover every inch of your arena in a color. I need to do more centerlines.
An old friend recently turned me on to a new app, Equilab. It is free to download and use, or you can upgrade to Equilab Premium for a monthly or annual fee. Equilab is available at both the Apple and Google Play stores.
Up until very recently, I used Under Armour's Map My Run app which is very similar to Equilab but designed for running or cycling. It does a lot of the same things as the Equilab app, but Equilab has a ton of advantages. After inputting your own profile information, you can also enter data for each horse. And from there, the advantages of Equilab become very apparent.
What does it do?
The app has a number of useful features. Like the Map My Run app, it tracks your speed and distance, but Equilab does a lot more. When you start tracking your ride, you can select which horse you are riding and label the type of ride you are doing - there are 16 to choose from. The app tracks speed, tempo, transitions, stride, and elevation. It breaks down how long you spent at each gait and even allows you to rate your and your horse's performance.
The app's Home page has a "Feed" and a "Challenges" tab. From the Feed, I can scroll through to see all of my recent rides and the rides of my friends - so far just one. I can click each ride, mine or any friends', and see oodles of data along with a map of the ride. The app breaks down how long and how fast you rode at each gait.
It's obviously more fun to look at the map from a trail ride, but seeing my transitions in the arena is also very interesting.
On the "Challenges" tab, you can set up specific distance challenges for each month. I chose 50 miles for April, not that distances are what I train for anymore, but if I were still endurance racing, this would be very helpful. Another feature that the app has that might appeal to others is the ability to connect with friends. There seems to be a lot of things the app can do for you when you connect with friends. So far, I haven't explored that part of the app very much as I only have one "friend," so if you're already on, send me an invite.
How much data is there, and how accurate is it?
I think even the nerdiest of riders will like the rabbit hole you can go down once you open the app's Detailed Stats Analysis. There is a graph for speed, tempo, transition, stride, and elevation. After using the app for a week, I think it is pretty accurate although I did have some problems with the results from our trail ride. When we cantered on that ride, the app showed a cantering distance of 0.6 mile, which I know is pretty accurate, but the maximum speed didn't ring true. We weren't cantering. I was in two point, with a fistful of mane in my hand praying that no one spooked. It was a hand gallop.
The app showed our maximum speed at just over 10 miles per hour. I can run a 10-minute mile which is 6 miles per hour. Brooke, a triathlete who rode Speedy, is much faster than I am. On the last ride that I did with my friend Marci - a ride that was close to her endurance pace, Map My Run showed our max pace was 3:25 which is close to 18 miles an hour. For that 0.6 mile of trail, Brooke and I were moving MUCH faster than Marci and I had.
The app also had trouble finding us for the first 36 minutes of the ride. The second time I used the app, I didn't have a gap in coverage, and interestingly, our very easy canter clocked in at nearly 8 miles per hour which felt very accurate. I was collecting and sitting that canter. There is no way there was only a 2 mile per hour difference between Izzy's collected canter and his balls to the wall gallop.
With only having used the app for a week, I am not worried about lapses in coverage and don't consider that a negative. As we all know, user error accounts for most technological glitches. The first downside to the app, and it is certainly not unique to this app, is that you need at least a certain amount of cellular coverage as it uses GPS to track you. If you have poor cell phone coverage where you ride, you might be out of luck. The only other downside I can see to using the app is that you need to ride with your phone in your pocket which I don't regularly do. I did read that the app can track you with a compatible Apple Watch which would be much easier except I don't own an Apple Watch.
Right now, Equilab is free for the basic edition and $99 for Equilab Premium which offers a few other features. I am not one to buy apps. I think I paid $0.99 for an app one time, so free is my speed. After using the Equilab app a few times, I decided it would be worth purchasing it. Since it's free, it's definitely worth trying out.
Final thoughts: get the app, you won't be disappointed.
A week or so ago, I wrote about ordering a new hay net along with a few other things. I got around to filling it with a fresh flake over the weekend; I am not sure I am in love with it though. For under ten bucks, I don't think I am allowed to complain about it. But first, here's photographic proof that my last hay net truly was on its last legs.
I am only kind of picky about hay nets. First and foremost, I only use the small hole nets for safety reasons. Izzy likes to play, so I avoid using any products that I consider "leg breakers." Besides that, large holes defeat the purpose of a nibble net. Other than the size of the holes, I don't have any other requisites when it comes to buying a hay net.
The last net I purchased, the one stitched together with baling twine, lasted long enough that I have no idea when or where I even bought it. It was made of a pretty study nylon with an extra thick drawstring for hanging. I definitely got my money's worth out of that net.
The new net was not at all what I was expecting. I should have read the reviews first. That being said, I don't hate it, I just don't know if it is going to last. The drawstring is very, very thin, so we'll see how that wears. If it does break, I can easily create a new drawstring from baling twine. And, no, I am not trying to be funny.
Unlike my old net and its predecessors, the material of the net doesn't feel like poly rope. This net feels almost like cotton, but when I looked back at the description, no mention is made of the rope's material. I looked at several other hay nets and couldn't find a description of the material they were made from either. In any case, it feels softer than my old hay net, so maybe Izzy will find it more comfortable to snack from.
As far as the size, it's perfect. This net could easily hold several flakes of alfalfa, although I usually only put in one at a time as that tends to be enough for the week. It's not meant to be a meal, just a snack to help reduce Izzy's anxiety while he stands tied.
One thing that I really like about it that has zero bearing on its usefulness as a hay net is the color. I chose the purple, and it is pretty. I know the color will quickly be hidden beneath hay dust, but for now, it is very striking. If the net lasts for six months, I'll feel as though its purchase price was money well spent. And again, it's hard to complain when the things cost less than $10.00.
I'll let you know if it doesn't last longer than a week.
I'll be honest. My first attempt to use the Pivo wasn't all that successful. I had practiced at home, I was familiar with all of the buttons, but it still lost me. I wasn't too worried about it though as a device like that has to come with some sort of a learning curve. There are just so many variables besides the settings on the app itself. I have a dark horse, a dark arena, deep shadows, bright light, and so on. So, I took everything back home and did some Google searching.
There is a ton of information out there about Pivo. The Facebook group is a good place to start as it's run by the Pivo peeps. Rather than do a bunch of trial and error myself, I took the time to read a few articles which explained each setting. That's how I ended up with the settings listed below. Why waste time trying out different settings when someone else has already done it?
After watching Pivo lose me for thirty minutes during my first attempt, I did some research and discovered that I had one setting in particular set incorrectly for my purposes - the predictive follow. Turn that sucker off. It does NOT do what you think it should do. In the end, I discovered that the optimal settings for working in an arena are as follows:
For my second go at using Pivo, it worked as perfectly as it could. As I was watching the recording that evening, I was suddenly looking at Izzy's midline and legs. Based on the position of his body, I am 99.9% sure my GorillaPod - the bendable legged tripod that I am using by wrapping it around the fence, must have slipped. I am not surprised as it actually did a pretty good wobble as I was setting things up. Outside of that little bit of use error, the Pivo tracked me nearly perfectly.
I had positioned the Pivo at "E" on the top rail of the fence which is a good six to eight feet from the edge of my dressage court. This worked great because I do touch "E" when I am riding, but since the Pivo is set back, we didn't fill the screen completely. And actually, with auto-zoom turned ON, you can hardly tell which screenshots are from close up and which are from the "A" and "C" ends of the arena.
I was also pleasantly surprised with how well my phone picked up my constant chatter. I talk quietly to my horses the entire time I ride, particularly to Izzy. On the video, I can hear lots of nope, nope, good boy comments. I have a lesson this afternoon, so I am really curious how well it will pick up my trainer's voice. She's usually pretty loud, but I don't want her to have to stand next to my camera the whole time.
Overall, I am really pleased with how well the Pivo worked. I did have that glitch near the latter half of my ride, but I know that was completely the fault of the user and not a reflection of Pivo's abilities. It's hard to video when you're pointed at the ground. For what it's worth, my trainer frequently can't see what she's filming either, so I tend to get a lot of shots of the dirt. It's hard to video and teach at the same time.
After just a second use, I am completely satisfied with the Pivo and have no regrets. From what I've read others say, it does sound as though the Pivo likes iPhones better than Andoid phones, and the newer your iPhone, the better. I have the iPhone 7 Plus, but it is at least three years old. I keep the iOS updated which I've read helps. I have also read that phone and app updates can make things worse instead of better, but I think the Pivo peeps work out kinks as quickly as possible.
I don't plan to use the Pivo for every ride - I don't have time to sort through that much video, but I do plan to use it for lessons and at least a couple of other times a month. I know that Pivo can be temperamental - see above, so here's to hoping it likes following Izzy and me around.
If nothing else, the Pivo company gets huge points for order fulfillment. I placed my order on Sunday afternoon. On Tuesday, I had a shipping confirmation, and by Thursday early afternoon, my Pivo had arrived. That's a good first step.
With a headache caused from sleep deprivation and long days spent staring at a screen, I decided to approach the getting to know you of my new toy with a bit more patience and thought than I typically would. I like to just rip open my packages and get to it. Instead, I opened each box carefully, examining things as I went. Besides showing up much more quickly than I had expected, the next thing that impressed me was how nice the packaging was. It came boxed up in the same sturdy boxes that Apple products come in. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say this was an Apple product.
Each piece, from the Pivo Pod itself to the charging cable to the remote control, came in individually labeled boxes. Even the manual came in a sleek little box. On the one hand, I hate paying for expensive packaging, but on the other, nothing makes me doubt the quality of a new gadget more than when it arrives in a box crumpled or damaged with loose pieces rolling around.
I must have been feeling pretty puny because I actually opened and read the manual before I even powered the device on. As directed, I downloaded the Pivo App and created an account. All of that went seamlessly; I allowed this and allowed that, and before I knew it, the Pivo had snuggled up to my phone - I have an iPhone 7 Plus, and was paired so completely that I wondered if the Pivo was going to follow me around for the rest of its life. Because that's one thing it did instantly, follow me. I did a toggle here and a toggle there, and Pivo was locked on to me like its life depended on it. I guess it sort of does.
The app isn't super intuitive, but it didn't take me more than 20 minutes to have the essentials worked out. My husband had to step in and help though because the Pivo wouldn't quit tracking me as I desperately tried to get behind it so I could see what was on my screen. He served as my object to track while I watched the screen and figured out the remote control. I was able to switch between video and photo - I doubt I'll take many pictures with it, and how to start, pause, and stop a recording. The one thing I haven't yet figured out how to do is to tell Pivo to stop following me. Although, that might not be a road I even want to venture down as not tracking riders is the number one problem.
At least ten years ago, probably more, my husband bought a Joby GorillaPod tripod so we could take better selfies while traveling. That was back when people still used regular cameras instead of cell phone cameras. The thing has been in storage for a long time. Just this summer I drug it out and attached my document camera to it so I could teach math. A decade later, and now the thing is finally earning its keep. The Pivo attached perfectly onto the tripod's mount like they were designed for each other. The GorillaPod even has a liquid level which makes getting the Pivo to sit level a breeze.
Once I had the basic functions sorted out, I plugged the Pivo Pod in so that it could charge - I have a lesson this afternoon. Overall, my initial impression is a good one. The order and delivery process went off more smoothly than I could have asked which earned big points right off the bat. The package arrived undamaged, another win, and the Pivo paired to my phone on the first try. There is obviously a learning curve, but after less than a half hour, I feel ready to give it a try.
So unless it refuses to track me, and I have seen that happen - I joined the Pivo Facebook group already, I think I am going to like it. I don't need more than a video or two a week, and I don't care if it's not presentation quality video, I just want to be able to see what's going on as we school different movements.
So what do I think so far? The Pivo seems worth the 150 bucks I paid for it.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: