Thursday, September 12, 2013

Video: Just like the big guys, a half-pint horse works out in an underwater treadmill

Miniature horses get to have all the fun, sometimes. When "normal" horses use the underwater treadmill at Colorado State University's Orthopaedic Research Center, it's business as usual. But when little Booya steps onto the belt, it's time for a video shoot.

Booya would be swimming if the water level was allowed to rise to the level used for full-sized horses, but the staff knows just how much water to add to get to the right level to give the mini enough water resistance to perform a safe therapy session.

It's probably not Booya's first time in the unit; once on the belt, the mini starts to do some hock flexing as if anticipating the water that will soon flood the unit.

Injured and recovering horses need therapy, whether they are minis or Shires. It's great when equipment manufacturers can anticipate the needs of therapy centers to accommodate horses of all sizes and shapes.

Aquatic therapy is great for horses that can't be turned out or ridden to aid in conditioning. According to CSU's web site, swim training may improve cardiovascular function, reduce locomotor disease, and increase the development of fast-twitch, high-oxidative muscle fibers, reflecting improved aerobic capacity. Horses in the treadmill units are not exactly swimming, but studies have been done with these types of underwater treadmills to determine the ideal water level to increase stride length without increasing stride frequency.

To learn more:
Joint Therapy in the Miniature Horse from the Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center in California
The Role of Aquatic Therapy in Managing Equine Osteoarthritis (CSU website)

Scott R., Nankervis K., Stringer C., et al. The effect of water height on stride frequency, stride length, and heart rate during water treadmill exercise. Equine Vet J 2010;42:662-664.

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