Nathalie Wiklund is a professional racehorse trainer in Sweden. She started working in the horse racing industry when she was 15 for the Swedish trainer Champion Tommy Gustafsson. At 16, she moved to England, went to a British horse racing school, and then worked a few months for Fluke Johnston Houghton. She also worked for Ben De Haan training for the national Hunt Yard. Due to a bad injury, she came back to Sweden after spending six and a half years in the UK. Equimetre user since February 2021, you will find out more about her experience in this article!
Can you tell us more about the young horses you are currently working with, and how do you prepare them?
This year, we prepared some of our horses for the Derby and the Oaks series. The horses we have are more comfortable on long races, between 1800 and 2400m. I tried to find out whether they can do a nice 13/12,7s pace each furlong and train them to do that for 2000/2400m gradually. The goal is to make them stand the distance as this is the time frame you need for the longer races here in Scandinavia.
How does data collection fit into this preparation, your decision-making, your commitments?
In the beginning, with the EQUIMETRE, I was mainly getting used to the device and how it worked. Then we went out on the field and started to collect data on canters, gallops, and every training we could. Once I figured out the average numbers for each horse, I gradually used the data to make them work harder. When they are working, I try to increase their training workload to push their limits. I try to see if I can match them with the times required for a classical race.
It is helpful, and now I think I will be able to use the data from next year better. I can use it to prepare the next horse as I know what numbers to target, what key point is needed at which time of the year. As we now have a database for some of our horses, the goal is to bring them to their next race level.
You can stand by the track with a timer and save some of the information the Equimetre produces, but the way you will keep it is not accurate enough. But with the Equimetre, you do not have to take care of the data history and storage. It is straightforward and precise, and you get more parameters than just a timer and a heart rate monitor.
What was the driving factor that led you to collect data on your horses?
One of our owners went to France where he discovered Arioneo. He told us it was something we should look at, and we got interested straight away. We talked about it with our racehorse owners, and they thought it was a good idea. We now have a small fee on the training fee. Everybody has invested in the solutions, and everybody has access to the platform. And I think the owners appreciate it.
If you have a horse with a slight loss of performance during a piece of training, and he has the Equimetre on, you can compare the data with the previous one and show the owner that maybe you should take it easy for a little while, and then start again. Sometimes they are ready to race a bit earlier than you thought, and you can use the data to discuss these matters with their owners. You can use the data to communicate with the owner more accurately, without only saying “I think” or “I feel”. You can look at the data with them, and if you can combine these data with what you feel, you can have something very successful.
What metrics are you looking at? How do you use the solution daily?
I look a lot at comparing the pace to the pulse, to evaluate the fitness and the recovery. When they come up at a higher speed, we start to look up at the stride frequency.
Do you share the data with your owners?
Why did you choose EQUIMETRE specifically?
We worked with polar before, so I was monitoring the pulse during training, but I think it is little data you get out, and it is not as analytics as the Equimetre. When we saw Equimetre, we did a lot of research, and we thought it might be interesting. We were stunned by the amount of data we could get out of the Arioneo sensor. It was a lot better than we thought it would be.
Do you have an example of a horse whose data has improved over time and training?
Fidji is one of our horses who has progressed the most and you can see it on the data. I had some troubles with her. Compared to the other horses, her pulse is always much higher. She goes up during a steady canter and you can think she has a bad recovery.
Data from the EQUIMETRE platform
Still, she goes winning races so that was confusing. But she is also very nervous and has a lot of tension in her body. With her, I have to look through the data, to compare how she was today and then look at the data with that in mind. In the beginning, we thought she might have a problem with her heart, and we have been discussing this with our vet team. We think she may have a smaller heart because her pulse is entirely different from all the others.
On these data, from a training of Fidji, we notice in particular her heart rate of 142 BPM which remains high even after the effort. Indeed, her speed and her heart rate do not decrease at the same time.
The journey with the 2yo is exciting as well. It will be great to compare their 2yo season data to their 3yo data. I think we will be able to see a significant difference. Alya Bloom is also a great example. She had pneumonia this Spring, and she was very ill. We could see on the data her recovery when she was able to use her lung correctly again. You could compare the pulse to her breathing, and sometimes her pulse was much better than when I experienced her breathing during the piece of work, which was very interesting.
Keywords: Nathalie Wiklund, experience, Equimetre, data, sensor, heart rate sensor, racehorse training monitoring