Since being installed, the treadmill has been a godsend. The incline and speed can be altered to suit each horses’ programme and provides low-impact exercise in a straight line for horses coming back in to work. Our purpose-built viewing platform also allows staff and vets to assess the movement from above whilst horses are in motion.
With the development of the horse’s optimum back muscles and hind quarters in mind, the treadmill has been developed with the benefit of variable speed and incline to focus on improving strength, flexibility and stamina. The treadmill also focuses on maximising balance and coordination to ensure the horse’s peak performance.
The use of a treadmill for conditioning a horse offers several advantages: The variable speed and incline of the treadmill allows the workout to mimic over-ground conditioning, similar to that of hill work without the weight of a rider. Walking the horse on an incline is a great way of improving stamina and building muscle strength, particularly in the back and hind quarters. The combination of adjustable speed and incline, as well as the ability to control the intensity and duration of a session, provides ample variety in a horse’s conditioning program allowing it to be tailored to the horse’s specific needs. It enables the horses fitness to improve in a controlled and structured manner.
Equine treadmills have proven to be particularly useful for rehabilitation work. It allows a highly standardised work programme to be adhered to without the implementation of a rider onboard. The weight of a rider increases peak vertical ground reaction forces in both forelimbs and hindlimbs but weight loading onto the forelimbs can range from anything between 50-100%. With this figure in mind, loading directly onto the fore limbs during rehabilitation from a lesion to the DDFT of the forelimb for example, it can highly implement recovery if a rider was on board during the early stages of recovery.
With the treadmill, it is easier to ensure that the limb is progressively loaded using suitable small increments in duration and intensity.
Not only is the treadmill an effective method of exercise, but also a great means of monitoring the horse during training. With the horse being relatively stationary to an observer, it is possible to quickly observe irregularities in gait, for lameness problems to be detected or to evaluate improvements in horses recovering from injuries.