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7 Best Fitness Trackers for Health-Savvy Horse Riders

fitness tracker horse rider
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Written by Susie W.

Do any fitness trackers track horse riding? Absolutely.

Fitness trackers have become very common in our daily lives. Whether you use one to track steps and activity levels, gain health insights, or monitor sleep, smartwatches can provide a ton of data to help us make healthier decisions. Can we also use them to track and improve our equine-related activities? 100%!

Amateurs and professionals alike can benefit from tracking their hours spent in the saddle. Whatever your motivation, there is a ton of information to be gained from utilizing a smart device.

When evaluating devices, consider a few factors:

  • What’s your budget?
  • How much data do you need/want from a smartwatch? Are you willing to download additional apps to sync everything up
  • While all the watches we cover in this article are water resistant (generally up to 50m), not all options are water resistant—always double check this!
  • How important is battery life to you? Smartwatches can have a huge range in battery life—think anywhere from 18 hours to 2 years! This is a metric that is important to pay attention to.
  • Are music capabilities important to you?

Why use a fitness tracker?

There are many good reasons to use a fitness tracker. A few common benefits include:

  • Tracking activity and intensity
  • Setting health or fitness related goals
  • GPS Location Tracking: This has an added safety component
  • Connectivity: Send and receive texts or phone calls from your watch
  • Monitoring health metrics such as stress and sleep

Now, let’s dig into best tracker options for equestrians!

Polar Vantage M2

The Polar Vantage series of watches includes built-in GPS, heart rate measurement, and activity tracking. Another feature is the Polar App, which syncs with your smartphone to track all fitness data.

Did you know Polar also makes horse heart rate monitors?!

polar vantage m2

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • Horseback Riding Setting: Yes, the Polar App has a horseback riding setting.
  • Battery Life: One user described the battery life as “sensational” claiming he went an entire week without needing to charge it. That said, when used for continuous training (with GPS activated) the battery is advertised to last 30 hours.
  • Price Point: $$

Drawbacks: It does not come with a touch screen. Instead, it is controlled with buttons.

See it at Amazon

Garmin Vívoactive 4

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 packs a ton of technology into a wrist-sized device. It tracks energy levels, pulse oxygen, respiration, menstrual cycle, stress, sleep, heart rate, and hydration levels. You can download music, use it for contactless payment, or personalize it with thousands of free, downloadable watch faces.

Activity tracking includes safety features like incident detection and assistance, and can send your location real-time to contacts. (I’ve accidentally activated this setting before while exercising!)

This was my first smartwatch and I’m amazed at everything it can do. It was a bit pricier than other options, but the insights I’ve gained are incredible. For example, I’ve learned that my daily stress levels are closely tied to my quality of sleep. I also no longer think a glass (or three) of wine before bed helps me sleep.

The goal-setting features keep me aware of my activity levels and add extra motivation to meet or exceed my goals.

garmin vivoactive

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • Horseback Riding Setting: Kind of. The Garmin Connect app does have a horseback riding setting so you can log activities after-the-fact.
  • Battery Life: I’m impressed. I keep the same settings all the time (they are not battery-friendly) and wear my watch 24-7. I can easily make it 3 days between charges.
  • Price Point: $$$

Drawbacks: It doesn’t have a specific activity tracker for horseback riding. While you can log it after-the-fact, I like to go ahead and log it real-time, just using a different sport that I don’t normally utilize. (As an example, for me, Pilates=horseback riding)

See it at Amazon

Fitbit Versa 3

The Fitbit Versa 3 includes built-in GPS for phone-free activities, along with heart rate and oxygen level tracking. Track both health metrics and exercise/activity intensity.

It also includes a built-in mic and speaker so you can take calls hands-free or use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

fitbit

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • Horseback Riding Setting: Yes, Fitbit has a horseback riding setting to track your time in the saddle. Some people simultaneously run the Driving setting to ensure any steps your horse takes while mounted aren’t counted towards your daily steps.
  • Battery Life: The Fitbit Versa 3 advertises a 6+ day battery life (depending on usage).
  • Price Point: $$ An excellent value, this smartwatch offers a ton of features for a smaller price point than many of its competitors.

Drawbacks: No music storage, but you can sync it up with apps like Spotify (for a monthly subscription). This watch does not track stress levels.

See it at Amazon

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Apple Watch Series 5

Apple has long dominated the market for smartwatches, and for good reason. They are versatile, offer a wide range of features, and are expertly designed. This watch monitors health stats (heart rate and blood oxygen), tracks activities, and provides a plethora of information on fitness statistics.

Apple watches can work as an extension of your phone for improved connectivity. They also feature an emergency notification feature for added safety.

What’s different about the Series 5 watch over the 4? It includes new case materials, an always-on screen, a built-in compass, and cellular-bands that work internationally.

apple watch

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • Horseback Riding Setting: Kind of—the Apple Watch app seamlessly syncs with the Horse Riding Tracker app for ride-specific data.
  • Battery Life: Is not fantastic, at 18 hours. Expect to charge this watch every day (or night)
  • Price Point: $$$$–This is the most expensive watch on our list.

Drawbacks: Apple watches don’t work with Android phones, so if you are an Android user, this probably isn’t the watch for you. It also doesn’t have the best battery life.

See it at Amazon

Fossil Gen 5

The Fossil Gen 5 pairs with both iPhones and Android phones. It includes all the health/fitness tracking you’d want (GPS tracking, sleep, heart rate, and activity tracking), plus connectivity for phone calls/texts, and calendar syncing. The always-on display offers thousands of watch faces for maximum personalization.

It also offers 8GB of storage for music and can control smart home devices!

fossil gen 5

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • Horseback Riding Setting: No, but there’s an app for that.
  • Battery Life: Varies based on usage, but typically 24 hours +
  • Price Point: $$

Drawbacks: Several users reported worse battery life than advertised.

See it at Amazon

Casio Men’s Pro Trek Bluetooth Connected Quartz Sport Watch

Casio watches are known for their rugged, military-grade durability. This watch includes a thermometer, altimeter/barometer, compass, activity tracker, and step counter along with Bluetooth connectivity with IOS and Android smartphones. It’s a top choice for hikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Download the “Pro Trek” app for added functionality.

This watch doesn’t offer nearly as much functionality as the others on this list—so why are we including it?

First, the price point. It’s the most economical option while still providing a ton of valuable data. Second, it’s been developed in cooperation with Equilab, a popular equine-specific app.

If you combine Equilab with the Casio Pro Trek, you’ll be privy to all kinds of fantastic horsey data!

casio watch

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • Horseback Riding Setting: Yes, if you pair it with the Equilab app.
  • Battery Life: Up to 2 years depending on usage—the best out of all the watches on this list
  • Price Point: $–This watch is the least expensive option, but doesn’t offer as many of the health/fitness metrics as other smartwatches.

Drawbacks: This watch runs off a battery that doesn’t appear to be rechargeable. Normal usage would see up to 2 years of battery life but pairing with Bluetooth will drain the battery faster. Also, it only seems to come in larger sizing, advertised for men.

See it at Amazon

Fitbit Sense

The Fitbit Sense includes all the features of the Fitbit Versa 3 along with the EDA Scan, which functions as a stress monitor, and ECG app / skin temperature tracking.

It also features super-fast charging—just 12 minutes will give you a full day’s charge!

fitbit watch

Click to see it at Amazon

Key Features:

  • Horseback Riding Setting: Yes, Fitbit has a horseback riding setting to track your time in the saddle. Some people simultaneously run the Driving setting to ensure any steps your horse takes aren’t counted towards your daily steps.
  • Battery Life: The Fitbit Sense advertises a 6+ day battery life (depending on usage), just like the Versa 3.
  • Price Point: $$–More expensive than the Versa 3, this watch falls in the middle to higher end of this list.

Drawbacks: Some users report that the band becomes easily unlatched, and the touchscreen is not as responsive as others.

See it at Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions

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Can Fitbit track horseback riding?

Yes—Fitbit has a setting for time spent in the saddle. To log, go into Workout Options and select horse riding.

You can also customize the workout to the particular horse’s name. To avoid motion on a horse being counted as steps, enter the workout as “driving” to track calorie expenditure without adding steps.

What is the best watch for horse riding?

The best watch will depend on the individual and their needs. For example, if you’re an Android user, an Apple watch may not be the best choice. Consider what you plan to use the watch for, your budget, and what kind of battery life you are looking for when selecting the perfect smartwatch for your needs.

What is the best Garmin watch for horse riding?

Garmin offers several great smartwatches—the best watch for you really depends on your price point. Most Garmin watches use the Garmin Connect app, which allows you to enter “Horseback Riding” as an activity.

Can Garmin track horse riding?

Sort of. Garmin allows you to manually enter “horseback riding” as an activity after the fact. It will track various metrics such as heart rate and calories burned while you are exercising, as well.

Is there a horseback riding app?

There are several! A few of the most popular horse-related apps include:

Additionally, apps like MapMyRun can be used for horseback riding as well.

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Is the Equilab Equestrian Tracker free?

Yes! This is one of the world’s largest equestrian networks, and it is free.

How can I track my horse ride?

Some apps will allow you to log your horseback ride as just that—as you are doing it. This is preferable as it will give you customized info to your particular ride. (We all know ride intensity can vary day to day or horse to horse!)

Other apps have less functionality but will allow you to log your ride after the fact. This can be helpful for tracking goals, but is less specific to the exact activity.

Does Apple watch track horseback riding?

Technically, the Apple watch does not track horseback riding. It does, however, sync with the Horse Riding Tracker app, which can track your specific ride.

Parting Thoughts

Smartwatches are a fantastic way to track everything from physical activity to sleep quality to stress. While many aren’t specific to horseback riding, you can partner your device with an equine-specific app to better measure your time in the saddle.

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Sources/References:
https://saddleseekshorse.com/5-fitness-trackers-for-horseback-riding-and-beyond/
https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-tech-best-smartwatch-horseback-riding-20210527-5cht3nxszvdmpeuxwjlucrwfmu-story.html
https://high-tech-fitness.com/4-great-fitness-trackers-for-horseback-riding/
https://almostontime.com/5-best-practical-watches-for-horse-riding/
https://www.horseillustrated.com/horse-community-fitness-trackers-for-equestrians
https://www.equestriannextdoor.com/equestrians-best-tracking-apps/
https://horseridingnetwork.com/get-the-best-from-your-horse-with-these-5-horse-riding-apps/
https://equilab.horse/smartwatch
https://equestrianspace.com/fitbit-for-horse-riding-heres-how/
 
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About the author

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Susie W.

Horses are my first love, but travel is a close second! I grew up riding in 4-H and went on to ride on my college equestrian team. As an adult, I've ridden and shown Quarter Horses for 20+ years, including several wins at Quarter Horse Congress. I also worked for 7 years at a leading horse feed company, and I'm passionate about equine health and nutrition. Lastly, I have a big soft spot in my heart for senior horses!

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