Whenever I heard of Water Treadmill work outs for horses, immediately Valegro and Hartpury springs to my mind, as we have all seen that Carl and Charlotte are huge advocators for the Water treadmill, whether its for rehab or for variation in training for your horse! One of the horses at work was referred to South West Equine Water Treadmills in Wincanton, as part of her rehabilitation back from Injury, so I was super excited to see just how it all works and the difference it makes – I’m not going to lie, I was a bit skeptical that it wasn’t all just a gimmick and money maker… How happy I am to say that I was very, very wrong!!!
Having seen the difference, it made to the horse from work, I had been chatting to Lisa (who runs the treadmill) throughout the sessions, and as is normal for me, asked so many questions as to whether a horse needs to be injured to make use of the treadmill. Secretly I was gathering as much information as I could, so that I could justify why I wanted to take Sharp to the treadmill to my ever skeptical non horsey husband!!
Its crazy just how much of a difference water treadmill sessions can make to any horse – Sharp has just completed his 5th session, and having started with the water at hoof height and only on the treadmill for 12 minutes, he is now on for 22 minutes and the water height is now just below the knee – It’s a hard work out both physically and mentally for him, but what I love, Is that my usually quirky horse, actually focuses and gets into a rhythm and works and truly enjoys it!
One of the main reasons that I wanted to introduce Sharp to the treadmill, is not because he had an injury, as lots of people were worried about when I first started posting that we were using one, but because as he is naturally built slightly downhill, I wanted to use the treadmill to encourage him to step under more and engage his core, and strengthen him behind…
From the first session I felt a difference in his ridden work.. His walk has more purpose and feels controlled and uphill, his trot work – which has always been his best pace in my eyes – has strengthened dramatically, we have always struggled with showing a medium trot, Sharp enjoys to flick his front end, but not push from behind, however since he has been using the treadmill, we have suddenly developed a very strong medium trot, where he is pushing from behind, sitting and really engaging – what more could I ask for?! Finally, his canter has also improved and he is engaging and sitting more helping to show an uphill canter!!
Unfortunately one of the downsides to using the treadmill, is that he has developed and strengthened and built muscle – which is fabulous, don’t get me wrong – and has really cottoned on to the engaging and using his core to be more through his back, however the new muscle and the amount of movement through his back has meant that his saddle no longer fits him correctly, so I am currently waiting for my saddler to come and adjust my saddle – therefore until it’s fitting him better, I am unfortunately only doing walk and trot work in the school as the canter work causes his saddle to move forwards and then pinch his wither – which causes Sharp to throw a little strop – who can blame him – he’s a sensitive soul and really hates any discomfort or pain!
Luckily my hubby has seen the difference, and enjoys accompanying us to the treadmill on a Sunday, and having a very tasty Coffee whilst there – thank you Lisa! I am amazed at the results and am loving the difference in Mr Sharp, I now fully understand why Carl and Charlotte and the top riders incorporate it into their horses work routine – It will most certainly be staying in Sharps routine – I highly recommend giving it a go with your horse – see the difference it can make in them!! 😊