It is no secret that the ocean is one of the best therapies and treatments for horses with leg injuries and even various diseases. The legendary Red Rum, winner of three Grand Nationals, was exercised along the beach every day of his racing career, as the cold sea water has anti-inflammatory properties for tissue and assists with swelling. Unfortunately, not all horses are able to get to the beach on a regular basis, so after approximately a hundred and fifty years of patenting equipment and developing new technology, horses are now able to benefit from equine hydrotherapy, no matter where they are.
A variety of spas, swimming pools and hydro pools with treadmills are now available to horse owners and the benefits of regular hydrotherapy are endless. Not only can it assist in the healing process of diseases and injuries such as laminitis, fractures, tendon injuries, tendonitis, wounds, ligament damage and soft tissue damage, but it helps strengthen muscular systems, improve fitness and assist cardiovascular systems without putting any strain on the horse, or their joints. And it is for these reasons that hydrotherapy is a recommended tool in the world of horse racing.
Often one will see horses being hosed down in stable yards, and even though this is beneficial to the horse, it needs to be done for at least twenty minutes before it really begins to make an impact, as the blood vessels need time to respond to the therapy. The water temperature can also not be controlled during hosing, so it is not as effective as hydrotherapy. There are three major reactions that occur while using hydrotherapy, of which the first one is that the cold water narrows the blood vessels preventing the accumulation of fluid at the site of an injury. The temperature also numbs the tissue, therefore acting as an analgesic, and hypoxic injury is brought to a minimum, as the water reduces the metabolic response in the horse’s cells.
For race horses, hydrotherapy is a recommended method of assisting in healing an injury, helping the horse recover from an injury and their all round health and fitness levels. Hydrotherapy sessions in an underwater treadmill tank is advised for horses with back injuries, as the treadmill also allows the horse to rebuild strength and muscle without further aggravating the injury. With so many hydrotherapy options available today, this wonderful therapy is accessible to all horse owners and trainers, no matter where they are located.