Once you’ve arrived and checked in, we’ll ask you about what the horse has been up to since the last session and do a quick visual inspection of the horse to make sure it’s fit to enter the treadmill. Pre-session preparation then includes a wash-down of the legs and fitting a “poo bag” (where possible) for obvious reasons! Your horse is then led into the treadmill.
The operators stand on an elevated walkway so that they can easily control the horse and watch its movements, assisted by a live video screen that allows them to see the horse’s leg action from the side.
You can see the horse in action through the transparent side panels of the treadmill.
The treadmill is started dry and the movement of the treadmill belt forces the horse to walk or trot within the confines of the cabinet so that it maintains position, not moving too far forward or backward. The assistant holds the reins to correctly position the horse, but quite quickly it will adopt a natural position on the belt requiring less and less control from the assistant.
The operator, who has overall control and responsibility for ensuring the horse is not unduly stressed or overloaded, introduces water into the cabinet. The level depends on the muscle groups to be exercised and the aerobic load intended. Heart rate can be monitored by a telemetry device attached to a girth strap, transmitting to a wrist monitor and recorded on an App.
After the session we’ll complete a written record of what we did and how the horse responded, along with the video footage and the before, during and after heart rate readings. We’ll discuss progress with you over a coffee and book in the next session. Finally, if you want it, we’ll provide you with the video footage and heart-rate data from the session in the following days.
At our first meeting, we’re looking to learn about what you want to achieve from hydrotherapy and your horse’s current condition, exercise regime and daily cycle of rest and activity. We’ll then give your horse a chance to experience the treadmill. Depending on its experience of this kind of work and how it feels on the day, this introduction can range from simply leading the horse through the machine a few times, to a few minutes work in water. Lastly, we’ll give you our recommendations and get your horse booked in for its first full session.