Circle Oak Equine boasts a custom-designed HydroHorse™ underwater treadmill. The HydroHorse™ is an in-ground, submerged treadmill, with 1,400 gallons of heated water and whirlpool jets and is a key component of many of our rehabilitation and fitness programs. The HydroHorse™ provides a controlled, buoyant environment for low-impact exercise, and speeds the return to fitness and performance.
What is the HydroHorse™ used for?
We use the HydroHorse™ for both rehabilitation and fitness programs. It is effective in treating bowed tendons, pulled suspensory ligaments, splints, bucked shins, saucer fractures, joint injuries, post surgical recovery and many other conditions. In addition, use of the HydroHorse™ adds significant tone and conditioning to the back and stifle muscles and forms the cornerstone of a low-stress fitness program for horses that need to attain or maintain competitive condition.
Why is the HydroHorse™ so effective?
Our HydroHorse™ underwater treadmill builds muscles and cardiovascular strength in a partially buoyant environment that reduces stress and concussion by up to 60 percent. The horse exercises in a controlled environment, in a straight line on a flat surface, using its normal gait, with full range of motion and the same muscles that it uses on traditional surfaces.
Unlike swimming, which uses a different set of muscles and does not replicate the workout that the horse receives on land, the HydroHorse™ builds topline and leg muscles with the added benefits of the therapeutic effects of the warm water and the Jacuzzi jets. See this article from the magazine Eventing Nation for more thoughts about how this kind of hydrotherapy could revolutionize horse conditioning.
My horse doesn’t like water. Will he go into the HydroHorse™?
Most horses acclimate quickly to the soothing feeling of the warm water and the ease of exercising in a buoyant environment. They don’t realize that the resistance of the water is actually giving them a cardiovascular workout superior to what they would receive on the ground! We ease ‘first-timers’ into the HydroHorse™ using a variety of low-stress techniques such as lead horses, gentle urging from behind and allowing them to watch other horses go through for a while before their turn arrives. In very rare instances we have used sedation for the first experience. Our handlers are experienced, calm and relaxed and the horses pick up their attitude.
Is it safe?
Our HydroHorse™ is the Model 1000, which features a 12′ treadmill and can easily accommodate large breeds. It is covered to allow for safe, comfortable all-weather use. Non-skid rubber pavers cover the flooring around the treadmill, and the entrance and exit ramps also have non-skid surfaces. Our HydroHorse™ has a custom entry-gate with generous padding on all surfaces to reduce the risk of injury. While in the HydroHorse™, all horses have two handlers/vet techs holding lead ropes at all times, with a third person attending during entry and exit.
The HydroHorse™ is equipped with three powerful filters to keep hair, manure and other contaminants out of the water, and uses chlorine to kill germs at about the same percentage as a swimming pool.
The rubber-paved wash station is equipped with overhead heaters, and horses are washed with warm water immediately after exercising to remove any traces of chlorine from their skin. We dry and blanket all horses in inclement weather, and have ample heated space for final drying.
Visit the HydroHorse™ website to learn more and to read about the benefits of hydrotherapy.