DO HORSES GO TO THE POOL?
When we started designing the Hippotherapy and Equestrian Facility in Hannover, we knew that the success of this project depends mainly on understanding the specifics of how horses function and knowing their needs. Having horse riding enthusiasts in the team, it was a very pleasant, developing and interesting task for us. We had many conversations, read dozens of articles and had a chance to visit the stud farms to truly spend time with the horses.
These experiences resulted in many ideas. We understood that the equestrian center should be equipped with spaces supporting the development, training and rehabilitation of horses. So we decided to design a horse pool. Water training has the great advantage that the muscles of the animals have to work much harder than with standard exercises on land. Thanks to the different water resistance in the pool, it is possible to dose the load on the legs depending on the individual needs and capabilities of the animal. Thanks to swimming, pain and friction in the joints are reduced, while the low temperature reduces swelling.
Our swim facility, perfect for Aquatic Therapy for Horses, features a horseshoe-shaped pool, purposefully designed with a usable width of 3 meters. This layout enables trainers to guide and secure horses effectively from both sides of the pool during training sessions. The pool's design allows for the equal distribution of water resistance on each side of the horse's body during regular swim training, while the curved section caters to horses needing to fortify one side more than the other. By swimming in a specific direction, horses can target and strengthen weaker muscles, promoting balanced development.
We also prioritized ensuring the horses' comfort and safety when entering and exiting the water. Recognizing their cautious nature, we incorporated a non-slip ramp with an optimal 30-degree incline, allowing the horses to navigate in and out of the water with ease.
Moreover, we aimed to construct a spacious, bright environment that mirrored the outdoors as closely as possible. To achieve this, we installed large windows in the walls and the roof, letting in ample natural light and creating a setting where horses could feel at ease, as if they were in the open fields.
Swimming as physical therapy for horses, has become increasingly popular in the rehabilitation and conditioning of horses over the past decade. It provides numerous benefits due to the physical properties of water, especially floatation, resistance, hydrostatic pressure, and thermal conductivity. Here are some key points of understanding:
Reduced Weight Bearing: The floatation provided by water reduces the weight that joints, bones, and muscles need to bear. This can be particularly useful for horses recovering from surgery or injury, or for those with chronic conditions like arthritis.
Resistance: Water provides natural resistance, which can help improve muscular strength and endurance. This is beneficial for both conditioning healthy horses and rehabilitating those recovering from injury.
Hydrostatic Pressure: This can help to reduce swelling and improve circulation, which can be beneficial in the healing process.
Pain Relief: The warmth of the water (if a heated pool is used) can help to soothe muscles and promote relaxation. This can be particularly beneficial for horses with muscular pain or tension.
Cardiovascular Fitness: Aquatic therapy can also improve a horse's cardiovascular fitness. The resistance of the water can increase the effort required to move, raising the heart rate and providing a good cardiovascular workout.
Flexibility and Range of Motion: The floatation and warmth of the water can help to improve flexibility and range of motion, which can be beneficial for horses with stiff joints or muscles.
Despite its many benefits, it's important to note that aquatic therapy is not suitable for all horses or all conditions. For example, it may not be appropriate for horses with certain types of wounds, skin conditions, or respiratory issues. As with any therapy, it should be undertaken under the guidance of a qualified professional and be part of a comprehensive rehabilitation or conditioning program.
Research into aquatic therapy for horses is ongoing, and new techniques and benefits continue to be discovered. It's always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian or a professional trained in equine aquatic therapy for the most up-to-date and relevant advice for a specific horse or condition.