Aqua treadmills speed conditioning in horses

Exercising while immersed in water can not only help a horse speed recovery from illness or injury but can aid in restoring strength and stamina.

Water treadmills have long been used to rehabilitate equine athletes after injury, but a study shows that they can speed cardiovascular conditioning in healthy horses as well.

By allowing a horse to exercise while immersed in variable heights of water—from hoof to stifle level—aqua-treadmills provide low-impact resistance that aids in restoring strength and mobility while minimizing the risk of re-injury.

Data showed that horses who exercised on the aqua-treadmill exhibited greater peak oxygen capacity than the horses trained without water.

Click here to read tips on getting horses fit. 

Researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada used some innovative equipment in collaboration with Washington State University to explore the benefits of aqua-treadmills for healthy horses using nine unfit Thoroughbreds. Six of the horses were conditioned on an aqua-treadmill filled with stifle-height water for 18 days, and three unfit horses were conditioned using the same protocol on the same treadmill, but without water.

Before and after the training period, the cardiovascular fitness of all the horses was evaluated at a racetrack by measuring their peak oxygen consumption capacity.

The data showed that horses who exercised on the aqua-treadmill exhibited a 16.1 percent increase in peak oxygen capacity—a key measure of cardiovascular fitness—while the horses trained without water had no increase in capacity.

The researchers conclude that equine athletes can benefit from the aqua-treadmill conditioning protocols even if they are not recovering from injury.

Reference: “Conditioning equine athletes on water treadmills significantly improves peak oxygen consumption,” Veterinary Record, September 2019

Don’t miss out! With the free weekly EQUUS newsletter, you’ll get the latest horse health information delivered right to your in basket! If you’re not already receiving the EQUUS newsletter, click here to sign up. It’s *free*!




Related Posts

Gray horse head in profile on EQ Extra 89 cover
What we’ve learned about PPID
Do right by your retired horse
Tame your horse’s anxiety
COVER EQ_EXTRA-VOL86 Winter Care_fnl_Page_1
Get ready for winter!


"*" indicates required fields


Additional Offers

Additional Offers
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.