June 23, 2022
A Spa Day of Another Sort!
Swimming and aquatreadmill work take center stage at educational event for owners who prioritize their horses’ peak performance, health, and well-being.
By Kim Miller | Equestrian Writer
Although the Haygain team has been out to several events already this year, we’re still struck by how fun it is to talk to horse owners about our products in person. In late May in sunny Southern California, we were honored to participate in an educational day at Equatic Spa. This is the first-class rehab and conditioning facility owned by Haygain #SteamTeamer and Swedish show jumper Hanna Mauritzson.
Swimming and aquatreadmill work were the focus of the event. Veterinarian Philippe Benoit explained the benefits of both forms of exercise for horses coming back from injuries and for perfectly healthy horses whose owners want to improve their fitness and/or give them variety in their exercise routine.
Dr. Benoit noted that swimming and aquatreadmill can play important roles in enabling the horse to maintain fitness and mobility while healing from many injuries. The days of extended box rest and limited movement in recovery are long gone in most cases, he said. Like injured humans, injured horses start their recovery with motion as soon as possible. That motion triggers healing processes in the body.
Into The Swim!
A handsome children’s hunter named Diagon happily demonstrated how horses swim. As two attendants guided him from either side of the pool, Equatic Spa’s Shay Stenchever discussed ideal equine swimming form: limbs extending symmetrically and the horse traveling with a straight and level spine.
All start with an “in and out” -- entering the pool from one ramp and exiting from another after half a lap. Once they are at ease, horses go through work outs that range from two laps for a hunter like Diagon that doesn’t need extreme fitness to up to six laps for Hanna’s Grand Prix jumping partner, Parkmore Lux.
Lux served as the demo horse for the aquatreadmill. Dr. Benoit said this equipment is great when a gradual increase of weight-bearing, concussion-inducing exercise is prescribed. A bone bruise is one of several such injuries.
“The best way to rehab this is to keep movement and promote blood flow to the bone,” he said. Blood flow is achieved by concussion, but only a little at first, then with gradual increases as healing occurs. A horse working on an aquatreadmill in 3’ of water – reaching an average adult horse’s stifle and shoulder – has 2.5 to 3 times less concussion than when working on a regular treadmill.
As the injury heals – as evidenced by bone scan – the load can be increased by decreasing the water height and, hence, the degree of buoyancy. Working in two feet of water reduces the concussion by 1.5 to 1.8 times, the veterinarian explained.
Water Works Respiratory Wonders
Overlapping Circles of Interest
Dr. Benoit spoke on behalf of the Equine High Performance Sports Group, presenter of the Sport Horse Podcast. This fast-growing series kicked off with a great discussion of swimming for horses. Haygain recently sponsored an episode on cardiorespiratory challenges in sport horses, featuring Dr. Emmanuelle van Erck Westergren. Dr. Benoit shared his expertise on everyday evaluations for sport horses in a late May session.
Haygain is grateful to be in the middle of increasing interest in scientific analysis and multi-disciplinary discussion of sport horse health, performance, and well-being. Attendees at the Equatic Spa event asked great questions reflecting their interest in doing all possible for their horses. This overlapping section of the Venn diagram that is modern sport horse management attracts people, perspectives and research-oriented companies all coming together for the good of the horse.
Memorial Day Twist
Given that the event took place on Memorial Day, Haygain, Purina, Equatic Spa and Hawthorne Country Feed decided to donate proceeds of raffle ticket sales to Cornerstone Therapeutic Riding Center in nearby Encinitas.
Cornerstone works exclusively with active-duty military and veterans to “save and restore” the lives of those who serve America. Through the proceeding week, Haygain donated a portion of all US sales to Cornerstone and Monday’s added contributions resulted in a substantial sum going to the program.
Attendees went home with goodies and gift bags from Purina Animal Nutrition, #SteamTeam t-shirts and bellies full of delicious BBQ. One San Diego horse owner happily drew the winning ticket for the Forager Slow Feeder from Haygain.
Thanks to Equatic Spa, Hanna Mauritzson and Purina Animal Nutrition for inviting Haygain to partner on this event! It’s always the educated, proactive horse owner who becomes a Haygain Way devotee and we loved learning alongside them on Monday.
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