Being at Hartpury College gave me a great opportunity to undertake work experience at their Equine Therapy Centre. Even Freddie had a chance to take part in some of the activities as he became a treadmill demo horse! His “job” is to take part in demos for students and visitors and show them how the horse walks, trots and canters on the treadmill. He also takes part in research studies such as efficiency of cardiovascular system or biomechanics. Freddie really likes this type of exercise and I hope that he will be able to continue using treadmill as a demo horse during my second year of Uni!
Many people are not familiar with treadmill exercise for horses and its benefits so let me introduce you to this method of training…
Treadmill exercise for horses
Equine treadmills evolved from slow-moving machines only capable of producing speeds for the horse to be able to walk and trot into high-speed and technologically advanced machines enabling speeds of up to 35mph so enabling the horse to canter or even gallop. For horses, the treadmill is a great training, rehabilitation and research tool!
What are the benefits of an equine treadmill?
Treadmill is an indoor horse training machine which offers several advantages and enables the trainers to control the speed, duration, incline and intensity of training on a stable, consistent and forgiving surface. Treadmill exercise enables to maintain muscle fitness in back legs and hindquarters and improve overall balance and coordination. It also enables to monitor the horse during training session (as the horse is relatively stationary) and quickly observe any irregularities in gait and ensure straightness. Training aids such as roller and side reins or pessoa training system can be used to improve the horse’s way of going. The treadmill can also be used for veterinary and rehabilitation purposes: can be used for horses returning to work after injury (such as ligament or tendon injury), for basic fittening work and also veterinary diagnostics of the upper airways and lameness exams as well as research purposes (biomechanics, gaits, cardiovascular system efficiency etc.).
Equine treadmill requires remarkably less space than other forms of exercise and can be used regardless of the weather (as placed indoor). However on the other hand, treadmills are expensive in terms of costs of purchase, electrical costs, and possible repairs. Horses might also find treadmill exercise boring and monotonous or in some cases stressful.
People might have different opinions about treadmill exercise and other modern or traditional methods of training but I believe that the most important thing is to provide variety to your horse and include a few different training methods in your horse’s training programme!
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Hope you enjoyed reading my article!
See you soon,