Saturday, April 04, 2009

Convert Human Chest Heart Rate Monitor For a Horse

So how do I get a Garmin chest heart rate monitor to work on my horse?? (Btw, this works with any chest HRM, but of course I use Garmin's so I can have an integrated HRM and GPS solution!)

Well, hold on to your saddle, because I'm about to show you.

First off, gather your supplies:

Garmin Chest HRM Transmitter
V-MAX Strip Transmitter Adapter Kit which can be purchased from The Distance Depot
2 small pieces of closed-cell foam or similar material
Waterproof first-aid tape
Scissors (optional)
2 small carbingers

Supplies Needed

Peel a sticky electrode off the plastic backing and position it near the end of the underside (ridged) of the HRM. Make sure the electrode is fully on the ridged part.

Do this to the other side, too.

Put the sticky electrodes on.

Take one of the short pig-tail wires and tie it around the hole in the transmitter on one side.

Secure the pig-tail wire.

Snap one side of the pig-tail wire to the stick snap electrode. Do this to the other side, too.

Both pig-tail wires secured and snapped onto the sticky electrodes.

Slide a piece of foam between the wire and the transmitter on each side. This will keep the wire from getting pushed down right there and possibly popping the snap off or separating the sticky part from the transmitter. You want to be sure there is a very good connection there at all times or the HRM won't work properly.

Pieces of foam to stabilize the snap connection

Take the waterproof first aid tape and carefully wrap one side. Be sure to cover the entire ridged part of the transmitter and enough to the outer edge to protect the sticky electrode from water or drying out from air. But don't completely cover the hole at the edge of the transmitter. And make sure the end of the pig-tail wire is sticking out. Tear the tape or use the scissors.

Tape up one side.

Now do the other side.

Both sides taped.

Take the transmitter sleeve pouch and unvelcro it. Lay the transmitter face down in the pouch and velcro it closed with the velcro on the back side of the transmitter. Putting the transmitter face down allows you to change the battery quickly without taking the pouch completely off.

Transmitter pouch on

Flip the transmitter over so the velcro side of the pouch is facing down.

Transmitter in pouch

Take one of the carbingers with the open side facing up. Slide the carbinger through the hole in the transmitter.


Then slide the carbinger through the clip of the transmitter pouch.


Rotate the carbinger so the opening faces down.


Attach the carbinger on the other side.

The carbingers keep the transmitter pouch in place and allows me to quickly move the transmitter from one saddle to another.

Carbingers on

The longer lead wires snap into the pig-tails to provide a complete transition from a human HRM to a horse one.

Complete solution.


Christine said...

This IS great stuff! Thanks so much for posting & w/pics- BONUS!! Now, can you show us how to place in on/where our equine? I hear saddle MUST be tight?? Again, many-many thanks!

April said...

Hi, Christine, I rode today and took pictures as I put the HRM on my horse. I'll post that soon.

To quickly answer your question, the electrodes must be in good contact at all times, but I don't like to overly tighten my girth, so I have a couple tricks up my sleeve to help with that and I'll share.

Stay tuned! :-)

All Who Wander said...


This is one of my "future" projects. Glad to see it posted here. I really appreciate when others share their know how. Good stuff ~E.G.

Page said...

Anybody have any great suggestions for sharing the monitor with your horse? I have not bought one yet but i want to use it on both my horse and myself and switch back and forth.

Do i need to buy two sets of pick-up units?

Page aka Old Cowboy

April said...

Page, I just have 2 heart rate monitor straps. One for the horse and one for me.


Unknown said...

Is there any way I can enlarge the heart rate read out on the Garmin Forerunner? It seems that every other read out is nice and large, but the heart rate is so small I will need glasses to see it!

April said...

Hi, JD, yes! See my comment after my other post: http://endurancerider.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-saddle-with-horse-hrm.htmlSounds like I need a new blog post. :)


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi ... I know this is an old post, but I am trying to figure out WHY you need to convert it? I just purchased a forerunner 610 with the premium heart rate monitor (which looks different than this one). I'm wondering why I can't just configure it directly onto the horse? Does it calculate the HR differently for a human than for a horse?

April said...

I am familiar with the soft strap that comes with the 610. That's the HRM I use for myself these days.

I guess you can use just the strap without converting it. The calculations are not different. The conversion kit only adds the big flat electrodes.

I use the conversion to avoid having the big bump under his girth. I am afraid of rubbing or soring after many miles.

You might be able to use a neoprene girth and cut a shallow well out to let the transmitter sit in that and be flush with the skin. I prefer to be able to use my HRM with multiple girths and multiple horses, so that wouldn't work for me so well.

The conversion kit won't work as well with the soft HRM strap such as you have. You can opt to use that for you and buy one of the older style HRM such as the one in my blog post.

If you do figure out a good way to use the strap as is on your horse, I'd be interested to hear about it.

Unknown said...

Hi April.

I am about to buy a Garmin Forerunner 910XT, would the HRM conversion work for that model too?

Thanks heaps! Beau

April said...

Hi, Beau, this setup is not the same as for the HRM that comes with the 910xt. The 910 is an excellent unit, btw, and is my favorite go-to unit.

In order to set up the 910 HRM for use on a horse, you will need a different conversion kit.

The Distance Depot sells these conversion kits. They work quite well. The only thing to really watch out for is the little clamps coming off the posts of the HRM block. So if your HRM isn't working after it has been, just make sure the clamps are firmly on the posts.

Have fun!