One of the safest and most effective means to exercise a horse and recondition him is in the water. We have found horses take to it very quickly and gain tremendous benefit from this low impact, low stress form of exercise year round.
The benefits of hydrotherapy are the relief of stress on a horse's joints and less physical impact. The water also provides greater resistance. Water density is some 12 times greater than that of air. This combination makes hydrotherapy an excellent way to recondition a horse after an injury or surgery and to improve fitness, just as it is for human athletes.
AquaTred underwater treadmill is perfect for post surgical work (instead of hand walking) and as a reconditioning device for horses post-surgically or after lay-ups. It's also used for fitness - from more air capacity to stamina to adding bulk muscle. It is also helpful when preparing horses for sale, especially in the high-end yearling market.
You can control the speed from slow, soft walk to an aerobic big power walk or long trot. The temperature can also be regulated according to the season, which keeps us up-and-running year round, even in the worst of weather. The warm water in the winter is of great benefit for older horses who suffer from arthritis.
Our highly trained staff, who are all horsemen themselves, work carefully with each horse to ensure a safe and positive experience from the first introduction to all subsequent visits. In the early years of Cold River, we used a heart rate monitor to accurately gauge the effects on horses. We found that the water and massaging jets produces a calming effect on cardiac output yet exercises them at their best 'working heart rate'. From the baseline readings, we can then begin to increase or decrease the workload of the horse while on the treadmill. We have found that some horses are so "brave" that they won't let you know that they are tired or hurting. With the heart rate monitor, we could clearly see when a horse was stressed, tired or nervous. The average initial working heart rate is between 90 and 110 bpm (beats per minute). Once the horse learns their new job in the water, we found the rate drops between 75 and 85 bpm. For comparison purposes, if a race horse is at top speed, their average heart rate is 170 to 200bpm! And a horse at rest, under a shade tree taking a nap is 25 to 30 bpm! In summary, horses working in the AquaTred are at the Prime Metabolic Conditioning Rate of exercise.
Benefits of HydroTherapy:
- Conditioning without joint insult from ground concussion
- Preserving senior horses who continue to work
- Rehabilitation of hundreds of injury types
- Visual detection of Chiropractic issues while in the pool
- Mental refreshment for burned out track and show horses
- Extend breeding life of stallions through exercise
- Pre-training conditioning for 2-3 yr olds to protect their joints and build muscles
- Pre-sale toning and conditioning so they look their best
- Broodmares benefit greatly after weaning to aid in post-partum pains
- Desensitization and exposure to new things for all disciplines
Our Aquatred barn is insulated and kept at a comfortable temperature throughout the year. During the winter months, it is heated and each horse is kept inside the building until completely dry. In addition to housing the AquaTred, it also has four wash docks. Horses are washed before entering and after leaving the AquaTred pool. The water in the AquaTred is kept at a comfortable 74 degrees and is chlorinated multiple times a day and water refreshed to maintain cleanliness at all times. During the summer, a cool breeze blows through the building from 3 sides of the barn and ceiling fans are utilized. The water is cool and comfortable for our hot summer days! For horses than need a more vigorus workout over our regular 15 minute session, we can condition your horse up to 30 minutes at a trot!
At Cold River, we are continually upgrading our facilities and staying on the "cutting edge" of technology. The AquaTred underwater treadmill has been a great asset to the many therapies we offer. The results we see are incredible! Muscle mass is enhanced, legs are strengthened, topline is strengthened, muscle tone is regained and mental relaxation is evident. From training burn out to invigoration.....that's what this machine can offer! Horses actually look forward to their workout!