‘Equine Hydrotherapy' is based on the therapeutic use of cold sea water over the centuries. It has long been recognised that it has benefits in aiding the treatment of leg injuries, swelling, and diseases in horses.
It is known that cold sea water has a positive anti-inflammatory effect on tissues which improves healing and helps to protect against injury.
A shining example of this 3 times Grand National winner Red Rum who benefitted from his daily exercise on Southport Beach.
Knowing about these benefits inventors have spent about 150 years developing and patenting various machines to replicate the beneficial effects of treatment with cold sea water which has resulted in several types of swimming pools and spas being manufactured specially for treating horses and ponies and is increasingly becoming part of the training regime for equine athletes.
Swimming benefits a horse by conditioning the cardiovascular and muscular systems without putting strain on the joints or subjecting the legs to stress or concussion. As well as being used to fitten horses by providing strenuous exercise, gentle swimming can be used as a method of rehabilitation for horses recovering from an injury.
Conditions benefitting from equine hydrotherapy:
Tendon injuries, Ligament damage, Sore shins, Degenerative joint diseases, Fractures and splints Concussion.
Infection of the legs, post-operative complications, wounds and cuts, poor hoof growth, soft tissue damage, bowed tendons, tendonitis, general stiffness and soreness, post competition strain, Laminitis.
In the moment the horse looses the ground under its feet it naturally starts to swim. It is the trainers’ responsibility to guide the horse safely out without drowning its body by putting weight on its back nor getting its nostrils under water though pulling on the lead-rope or reins. The swimming sessions have to be very short in the beginning always making sure that the horse does not get exhausted in the water (no longer than 2-3 minutes per swim). Most horses love to swim in the Ocean once they’d overcome their natural fear. However, if practising the swimming for hydro-therapeutic sessions it is essential to have veterinarian assistance at side.
I also like to use the ocean’s help for getting on young horses for the first time: when coming back in, just before the hooves touch the ground again, I can easily get on their backs staying there just for the first couple of steps and get of before they get conscious about that I am sitting on them. They’ll realise it later as something that didn’t harm nor bother and little by little I can increase my time up there letting it become a joyful adventure rather than a traumatic interference.
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All life comes from the sea
“The sea washes away the ills of all mankind.” ~ Euripides (420 BC)
In 1897, a French doctor, René Quinton discovered that seawater and our blood plasma are 98% identical. Our blood has an extra molecule of iron whereas seawater has an extra molecule of magnesium, and apart from this all the molecules are identical. When immersed in warm seawater the body absorbs the minerals it needs through the skin. Among the many minerals found in the sea is iodine which helps the body fight infection while boosting thyroid function. Seawater increases elasticity of skin and also improves circulation, helping the body to carry blood to all its vital organs.
The benefits of seawater are numerous, it helps the relaxation of muscles, releases pain in joints and muscles and it is good for the skin. Breathing in the spray of the waves highly improves the soundness of the respiratory system as the seawater compounds more than 90 minerals (the most common are iodine, zinc, potassium, sodium and magnesium) and also micro-elements which heal and strengthen the mucosa of the respiratory system.
Due to the great contribution of minerals it fills up the body with electrolytes provoking the sensation of wellbeing. The mineral nutrition disinfects and heals the skin (diseases and superficial injuries) and improves the general skin condition.
From all sports swimming (especially in the ocean) is the most comprehensive regarding its strengthening effect of the muscular skeleton and cardiac system.
The immersion in the ocean at a depth of approximate 1,50m causes a perfect pressure-equalisation of the inside pressure of the body and the outside pressure executed by the seawater. This pressure balance provokes a variety of positive effects, like:
• Increasing the respiratory capacity and oxygen supply thereby the augmentation of red blood cells.
• Amplifying the elimination of toxicants. Due to the fact that seawater has a higher pressure than air it has a drainage effect on the body and therefore stimulates the blood-circulation as well as the lymph stream.
• Activating the circulation.
• Benefitting the heart (weight is eight times less in the water) as action needs less effort.
• Improving muscular mobility and strength.
• Strengthening the bones by absorbing the dissolved micro-elements through the skin.
The whole list of benefits would fill a book …..