Rehabilitation and Fitness Therapies

When Bobby and I were on our way back from Arizona, with only about an hour left to go in our drive we passed a place called Equicare. I was so bored by that point that I was googling everything of interest that we passed, so I plugged Equicare into my phone and pulled up the website. I was pleased to find out that it was a rehab center that offered everything from an underwater treadmill to a saltwater spa and everything in between. I didn’t realize we were so close to a facility like that.

equicare1It seems like some forms of therapy are super common- massage and chiropractic for example. Henry has had both, although for him massage is by far the best. He loves it and the difference after a session is obvious, so he gets to see his most favorite massage lady on a regular basis.

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massage = total bliss

But those aren’t the only forms of therapy…I’ve seen a lot of eventers, showjumpers, and dressage riders utilizing many different things to help keep their horses fit and feeling good. The aquatred (aka underwater treadmill aka aquaciser) in particular is supposed to be absolutely fantastic for strength and conditioning. I feel like those of us with sporthorses are always looking for ways to increase our horses’ fitness while keeping the physical pounding to a minimum. I mean… if it’s good enough for Valegro

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Valegro at Hartpury University (photo from them) in an above-ground aquatred

About the aquatred at Equicare:

The HydroHorse is an in-ground, submerged treadmill, with 1,400 gallons of heated water and whirlpool jets. It provides a controlled, buoyant environment for low-impact exercise, and speeds the return to fitness and performance.

It is effective in treating bowed tendons, pulled suspensory ligaments, splints, bucked shins, saucer fractures, joint injuries, post surgical recovery and many other conditions. In addition, use of the HydroHorse adds significant tone and conditioning to the back and stifle muscles and forms the cornerstone of a low-stress fitness program for horses that need to attain or maintain competitive condition.

The HydroHorse underwater treadmill builds muscles and cardiovascular strength in a partially buoyant environment that reduces stress and concussion by up to 60 percent. The horse exercises in a controlled environment, in a straight line on a flat surface, using its normal gait, with full range of motion and the same muscles that it uses on traditional surfaces.

Unlike swimming, which uses a different set of muscles and does not replicate the workout that the horse receives on land, the HydroHorse builds topline and leg muscles with the added benefits of the therapeutic effects of the warm water and the Jacuzzi jets.


While Equicare offers a lot of different services, the other one that I found super interesting for Henry was the saltwater spa. I’ve seen this pop up more and more these days and have become increasingly curious. Some blurbs about the saltwater spa:

  • The saltwater in the spa is aerated and chilled to a constant 35° F. The hyper-cooled saltwater reduces limb temperature (and hence inflammation) far beyond traditional icing techniques, thereby inhibiting enzyme degeneration of tendons and ligaments post-injury.
  • Saltwater at this temperature allows a far greater concentration of oxygen, which, combined with the aeration, greatly increases the overall oxygen content of the spa solution, which is believed to promote healing in the same way a hyperbaric chamber does.
  • Exposure to this low temperature results in a significant, drug-free reduction of pain.
  • As the legs re-warm after treatment, blood flow is greatly increased to the injury site.
  • The aeration massages the horse’s legs, increases oxygen content, stimulates blood flow and cleanses open wounds.
  • The Epsom and sea salt solution acts as a hypertonic poultice, which means that it draws inflammation out of the horse’s limbs far more effectively than fresh water. The salt also aids in wound cleansing.

Equicare also has a Theraplate, regenerative laser therapy, Game Ready, and a solarium (we saw several solariums at barns in Europe, so fancy).

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Have any of you used therapies like this on your horses, or been interested in them? What’s worked for you and what hasn’t? And if you don’t like them or haven’t used them – why not?

And yes, of course I booked Henry an appointment for the aquatred and the saltwater spa, because how could I not? More about that tomorrow!

15 thoughts on “Rehabilitation and Fitness Therapies

  1. VERY cool. You’re lucky to have that close by! How much do those treatments cost? I believe strongly in fitness therapies because I have seen the obvious changes in my horse and others after chiro adjustments, massage therapy and acupuncture. But I think consistency is key…they’re going to be more effective if done routinely.

    My pony hates massage (the only time I’ve ever seen him try to kick someone was at the massage therapist…*monkey covering its eyes emoji*) but responds great to acupuncture, so I try to get him worked on once a year. The chiro also comes to our barn once a year or as needed. Those are the only therapies available to us out here in the great white north, but if I had access to more and could afford them, I’d certainly try them.

    Horses’ bodies endure all the aches and pains and wear and tear that human athletes face as well, so why wouldn’t we support them in any way we can? Sometimes I joke that my horse gets all these nice treatments but I can’t remember the last time I got a massage myself…

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  2. Very cool! A friend of mine had a horse in rehab at a place that did swimming — I forget what kind of injury her mare had but several months of swimming definitely helped her! I love seeing all these inventive therapies, even though I’m probably too poor to ever afford them lol

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  3. this might be the most jealous of a horse i’ve ever been. can’t wait to read your thoughts on how Henny’s session goes! honestly i don’t even care if some ppl believe things like this basically amount to making the owner feel better and not much else… but my mare has definitely enjoyed some pampering via chiro and acupuncture, so i’m all for it.

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    1. I agree, I really believe that there’s value to it. Not every type of treatment is going to work for every type of horse, for sure, but if you can find the right thing to help them out or supplement your program, it can really do great things.

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  4. That picture of Valegro is cracking me up. He’s wearing such a fancy bridle. Like, get dressed up, you’re going to be in a promo photo! Oil that sucker later if it gets wet!

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  5. My horse does weekly aquatread and I love it. He has mild neurological issues and it really helps with not only strengthening his hind end but proprioception too

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  6. I’ve always heard of benefits of riding your horse in the surf, there are even trainers at Golden Gate Fields that bring their horses to the beach because of the benefits to their legs. The salt water treatment certainly sounds magical. I’ll be interested to hear what Henry thinks of it

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  7. We are lucky enough to have a laser and revitavet at our barn. The laser is fabulous for injuries, both old and new and the revitavet is great for tight and sore muscles after a workout. I also notice a big difference when I use it before I ride.

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