Working Horses In Water – The Benefits & Options
Working horses in water has become a key part of sport horse and racehorse training over the past few years. Yards and training facilities are investing in their own water walkers or swimming pools to support the development of their horses. Working horses in water is not only a fantastic rehabilitation or recuperation method, following illness or injury, but also provides numerous benefits for young horses, those in training or competition and even broodmares.
Working horses in water offers a low impact route to cross-training and the recruiting of new muscle groups. This in turn can help build stamina, general fitness, muscle tone, builds back muscles and encourages self-carriage. The action horses must adopt whilst walking through the water, whether this is a high step or more wading action, also helps increase the horse’s range of movement and stride length.
With a standard equine water treadmill, such as the Horse Gym 2000 Aquatrainer the horse benefits from:
- Improved blood circulation through the legs
- Reduction in inflammation, swellings and soreness in joints and tendons, thanks to the chilled water helping to reduce oedema
- Controlled loading of joints and limbs whilst working in water, making it an effective method of rehabilitation for horses recovering from several orthopaedic injuries
- Consistent contact with the ground, which results in the horse being able to maintain a regular respiratory pattern and spinal shape
The Seawalker, Equine Health Centre’s innovative and market leading equine water walker, there are additional benefits over the standard equine water treadmill:
- Safe, and loose, natural exercise
- Increased resistance due to salinated water
- Saltwater aids healing of superficial guts and grazes
- The salt content of the water also doesn’t support microbial growth; therefore, the water remains suitable for use without the addition of harmful chemicals such as chlorine, that can have a damaging effect on skin of horses and their handlers
- Saltwater encourages hoof growth
But, what makes the water walkers stand out from equine swimming?
The key element being that the horse always maintains contact with the ground, enabling regular breathing and spinal shape throughout. It is also common for equine swimming options to use lunge lines to encourage the horses to move around the facility, often hindering the movement. This is something that we don’t find with the water walkers as the horse is essentially ‘free’ within the bay.