Cross Country – There’s Now An App For That Too

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Course Walk App

The growing band of iPhone Apps for eventing fans everywhere is about to increase by one, thanks to the imminent arrival of the Course Walk app, that will help you record your course walk, automatically work out where your minute markers are and let you take photos of every fence along the way.

I have to confess I got quite excited when “CourseWalk” started following me on twitter, and I discovered this was a new app, with some cool tech use of the iPhone for eventing. The app has been developed by Nicolas & Tracy Hinze from Bedford, Virginia. Tracy has been eventing for 20 years and currently rides at the Preliminary and Intermediate levels in the US, and her software developer husband, Nick, seems to have caught the eventing bug in the last few years, and is running around some of the beginner novice level courses on a percheron cross named Picasso – brave guy!

After exchanging a quick flurry of messages with Nick to find out more, I managed to get a preview version of the app on my phone. So armed with trusty iPhone off I went to my cross country schooling ground to field test the app.

Great Visualisation

You start by entering some simple data about the course, like name, location, level, and optimum average speed. From this simple data, using pinpoint accurate GPS & mapping, the app records every footstep you take and plots it on a map working out how far you have walked down to the last metre, and as you walk through each minute marker up pops a little blue indicator as your route is traced. As you reach each fence in a few simple clicks you can note the fence number and take a photo. You can even take photos along the way to help you remember your fence lines.  Once you’ve walked through the finish line, simply stop recording, and save. Hey presto you can now review your course walk at your leisure, and having happily left your metre wheel at home. (not that I’ve ever used a metre wheel)

Highly Accurate

The GPS is so accurate that will record you walking around a fence if you don’t pause the recording as you reach each fence, and the first time you use it, it can be a bit mesmerising, so any slight deviation off your line could be recorded as well. I’m sure this is just a case of getting used to the app and getting into a habit. Being typically male, and unable to multi-task, I would probably delegate the task to a course walk companion.

What’s great about this app is it records your actual foot print round the course with a high degree of accuracy. You can then review this and see whether you are managing to save a metre or two here or there compared with the official distance, and if your memory is anything like mine it’s a great way to memorise the course, with the use of photos. Simply play back the course and up pop the fence pictures on the map as it goes through your route.

What’s more is that the app links to Dressage Tests & Live Scoring (currently US only, but more planned very soon)

In Summary here’s a list of things I like about it:

  • It’s accurate and helps you visual the course after you’ve walked it. 
  • It fits in your pocket, unlike a metre wheel

The only downside I’ve found so far is it does chump through your iPhone’s battery, but I know a solution for this is currently being worked on. In the meantime go buy this handy little gadget that I carry to all my events.

Never satisfied, I’ve already come up with a Christmas list of things I’d like the app to also do (in the next version please….):

  • Allow me to record my actual round by carrying my iphone with me, so I can compare my walk with my ride (minute markers etc.)
  • Allow me to move the minute markers to account for terrain, intensity etc.
  • Allow me to share my course with others, and more importantly vice versa (I really want to see how Andrew Nicholson intends to ride Burghley!).
  • Allow others to add photos to my course (which might be photos of my horse)
  • Record audio or video, so I can make notes as well as take photos, (useful for noting visual markers for lining up fences)

My memory is so useless I’d probably use it to record my showjumping course, dressage tests, and where I left my car keys as well – overall a pretty useful app, I love it. If you have any ideas feel free to add them in the comment section.

The app is due to be launched in the iPhone App Store at the end of the month, with an introductory price of around $5, so keep an eye on www.coursewalkapp.com & their twitter account @coursewalk. I’m sure before too long it will also make an appearance in Android flavour, but I suspect they won’t make a blackberry flavour though. Here’s why:

Dominic
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Amateur event rider, aspiring photographer. Technologist by day.

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