Sunday, March 25, 2012

City Slickers

What's better than one exciting day of trail riding? Why, TWO exciting days of trail riding, of course! Having had my first taste of outdoors adventure on my new mare, and not knowing when I'd have another whole weekend all to ourselves, I just had to have more!

Today's trail system of choice: the Trinity River Trails, with the kickoff point being at the Fort Worth Stockyards. The Trinity Trails used to run right near my old place in Fort Worth, but I had no idea that there were sections of it where you could ride horses! I knew that the Stockyards ran trail rides out of their stables, but I had no idea where the riders went, or that the public could also go there. For those of you that don't know, the Stockyards is basically the heart and soul of Fort Worth, where drovers used to bring their herds of longhorns through to the railways for sale. Now it's an insanely large tourist attraction with ridiculously good barbecue, a host of rowdy cowboy bars, huge country music shows, a weekly rodeo, a twice daily cattle drive down the main drag, and the same brick road and old building foundations that it always has had. On a busy weekend, the place is absolutely PACKED with people, motorcycles, longhorn cattle, carriages, cowboys, and about a million cars all trying to make their way through the chaos on the bumpy brick road. It is absolute barbecue sauce-laced pandemonium. And it's awesome.

When I googled the trails, I saw a parking location for horse trailers off of the road next to the main drag running through the heart of the Stockyards. Perfect, says me, and we load up and head out at around noon. When I arrived, I found... that there was no sign anywhere for trailer parking. Lots of parking for cars... no trailers. Excuse me Mr. Parking Attendant, where do I park for the trails? He gives me a totally blank stare and silence. Ok then... I will go down the way and ask the next parking attendant... who also gives me the exact same blank stare. Fine, I will go FURTHER down the way and ask THAT parking attendant, who was closer to where they keep the longhorns and where the petting zoo is. I left Pangea in the trailer in the other parking lot (which clearly was only for smaller vehicles), and finally found a parking attendant who SEEMED to know what he was talking about. Only as it turns out, he was only acting like he knew what he was talking about because he wanted to impress me with his vast Stockyards knowledge in order to try and score my number. He puffed out his chest, turned around in a large semi-circle, and spotted a single lone horse trailer about 1/2 a mile away from us. "Over there," he said, "and then you can ride back through the Stockyards to get to the trails over that way." Um.... are you sure? "Totally." Well... ok then, bye! I left him standing like a deflated balloon, watching his wishful score walk away with haste back to her horse trailer. Don't worry, he comes back into play later.

I got back in my truck, pulled around to the parking lot that was nearly abandoned and about a zillion miles away, and unloaded the mare. She blinked in the sunlight, watched the Tarantula (AKA the train) chugging past, and stood with relative ease compared to how she was yesterday. We still experienced some frantic bouncing and head-shaking when I mounted and she REALLY wanted to go somewhere, but she settled within a minute or so into a nice marching walk, which she then maintained for about two hours. (Jeez... do you ever tire?) She hesitated a bit when she hit the bricks crossing through the Stockyards, but I scooted around the edge of the place, trying to avoid the chaos on my way to the relatively peaceful trail system.

Only.... where are the trails.

Seriously, where are they.

Oh look I found them!

Quite the contrast to yesterday's wilderness, the Trinity River trails are perfectly manicured, flat, and groomed. And they lead basically right into Fort Worth... it was so weird riding right up to the base of a major city!

Compared to yesterday, Pangea was a dream. She steadily marched along, maintaining a very forward pace from start to finish, head low and swinging in time with her step. She fussed about going underneath the highway (can't really blame her... I got off, lead her under, then got back on and rode her back and forth under it a few times), but that was the only real incident we had. The only thing she spooked at were the varying stalagmites from Hell piercing the Earth's crust for the sole purpose of scaring her to death boulders placed along the trail with plaques of death on them. Once she got a sniff and realized they were potentially lethal but temporarily frozen in time harmless, she ambled on without another look.

On the way back, we crossed the main street at the Stockyards, right by the ever-delicious Riskey's BBQ...

... and were waylayed by the same parking attendant who was so very interested in helping me before. I rode over to him and made small talk for a moment, and then he happened to throw in a casual, "Can I just say you're looking stunning today." Like any black-hearted woman, I realized my chance to use this man for a purpose in his moment of weakness had just arisen, and I innocently smiled and thanked him with batted eyelashes. I then followed this up with a casual, "Hey, can I ride down the main road?" "Sure, anything you want!," he replied, clearly bolstered by my response. "Thanks!" I said, and immediately was off, leaving him once again deflated in my dust. I'm not exactly sure whether or not you are allowed to ride down the main road in the Stockyards - it's kind of a chaotic nightmare, and probably extremely dangerous on a rank horse - but hey, I did it anyway!

Even though I probably looked a bit out of place in my trail attire and HELMET. I couldn't count on both hands the number of cowboys who stood staring at the strange tumorous growth on the top of my head, like they had no idea what it could possibly be. All I have to say about that is this: have you ever met a smart cowboy? No? It's because of their numerous head injuries from falling off horses while wearing cowboy hats. Yeah, I said it. Take that, Slim. You put your eyes back in your head and just keep walking.

She was SO good today. SO good! A nice liniment bath, a rubdown, a good graze, and a nice roll later, and she was tucked away with dinner for the night. She'll have a few days off to relax and chill out - it was a very eventful weekend for her! - and then we'll head back to the pool mid-week. Yay for Adventure Time with mares!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


There was a time, not all that long ago, when I was debating whether or not to bother blogging about Pangea once she arrived. I thought that surely - surely! - she would have a truthfully boring story, and that no one would want to read about our boring, boring antics. She was an old, quiet, plog-along sweetheart who wasn't ever going to do anything remotely interesting compared to all of Gogo's old antics, right?

Uhm. I think the phrase "I was very wrong" doesn't even begin to suffice here.

Let's take our last dressage ride for example. (By dressage I mean only the most rudimentary of work, mostly at the walk.) When I pulled her out of her pen, I decided to drop her in the roundpen for a minute to let her loosen up and get her bucks out before I tacked her up to ride. She went one way just fine, and then when I went to turn her around, she made a face and kicked out in my general direction. OH NO YOU DIDN'T! I don't tolerate obnoxious bossy attitude from my beasts and made her turn, turn, turn around back and forth until she did it at the slightest notice and without any attitude. It only took a few turns before she was obediently and immediately responding, so we quit with that. Mares.

THEN, when I went to tack her up, I was currying her belly and she decided to let me know how unamused she was by this by sinking her teeth into the wheel well of my trailer where she was tied. OH NO YOU DIDN'T! x2! My immediate response to this was to give her a quick spank. You do not EVER bite anything when I am handling you. End of story. Absolutely no biting, no kicking, no sass, no nasty attitudes around the Boss Mare, which is me. You keep that to yourself or Boss Mare will knock you back down a peg. I won't discount that you don't like your belly curried - and I will curry it softer next time, and keep this in mind in case it's a physical issue that needs attending to - but don't you dare bite.

So what did she do in response to her spank?

Flailed, set back, broke her halter, and wandered nonchalantly off.



And then we had THE best flatwork session we've had, hands down.

And I thought she was going to be boring in comparison to Gogo.

Looking pretty sexy no?

Today we had another grand adventure filled with peril, excitement, and panicked freak-outs - our first trail ride! I've been itching to get out on the trail with her ever since I got her, and I finally felt that after a month of work that we had graduated to being able to handle a short walk-only trail ride off property. I had absolutely no idea how she was going to act, seeing as the only place I've ever taken her off-property is to the pool to swim. She unloaded, looked around, and froze, eyes popping out of her head. Hmmm, I thought... this could be interesting.

When I mounted, she immediately began to jig, shake her head, and skitter sideways in her anticipation. Awesome. What did I get myself into?

Of course, the FIRST thing that happened was that the trailhead itself was absolutely flooded from all the rain we've been having in the past few weeks. In order to access the trails, you have to cross the riverbed, which normally I would assume isn't much more than a trickle, or in the summer completely bone-dry. As for today, it was almost 4' deep! I of course didn't realize quite how deep it was until I felt water flooding into my boots and looked down to see my feet disappearing into the current. Pangea only hesitated for a moment before walking right across.... that's my girl.

From there on out, however, it was all jig all the time. She jigged, she shook her head, she oogled at the fishermen on the bank, she broke out in a nervous sweat. This was compounded by the fact that there were lots of muddy patches on the trail... VERY muddy patches. I did not anticipate this or I would not have chosen the trail that I did, but once out there, it was a bit too late to turn around and drive elsewhere. She handled the muddiness with relative grace for the first 10 minutes or so... until we came to this boggy nightmare:

And once we got to the bank of it, she said no.

Loudly. NO. Mom, that is insane. Will not go.

I urged her on. Mare, you can do it, loads of other horses made it, see the hoofprints? Just go slow and we will be ok.

NO. Will not go.

We managed to get in partway before her hind end sunk a few inches into it and the mud began pulling on her hind boots. (Note to self... she hates hind boots.) Suddenly, I found myself on a flailing, thrashing, bucking, leaping nightmare animal who was hellbent on getting out of there, NOW. She shot backwards, legs flying in all directions at one time, directly backwards into a tree. I felt a stab in the flesh of my right hand near my thumb, and the moment she stopped moving I looked down to see what had happened. Oh... that's not what I was anticipating:

Fast fact about Texas: everything here either bites, stings, or pricks. In my case, I got pricked in the hand by a poisonous thorn a stabby plant. I have no idea what stabbed me, but I managed to turn around and see the remainder of the plant firmly tangled in Pangea's tail. Not about to jump off into the mud and extricate it, I decided to deal with it once we got to the other side. Fortunately, it fell out before we even made it over there.

And yes, we safely made it to the other side. After her fussing, she finally just decided of her own accord that she was going to march through the mud like it was never actually a big deal after all, and that was that. Mares!

From then on out, she was a total dream, negotiating the terrain easily on a long rein with her head low and her walk marching.

It was a glorious 85 degrees today, hot and steamy and sweet-smelling. The flowers on the trees have long since come and gone, replaced by fresh green leaves bursting with new growth, and the bluebonnets have suddenly exploded into bloom all over the place. Check out that last picture.... bluebonnets EVERYWHERE. Weirdly enough, they love to hang out in the same areas as the little ground cacti do, so you have to be careful where you ride. Pangea has yet to be stabbed with a cactus, but I've been nailed, and let me tell you those suckers HURT.

After a blissful second half of our ride, we came back across our trail entrance going the opposite way, and I felt brave enough to film her walking through the 4' deep water. The video cuts out halfway across, but we made it, I promise! ;)

What a good girl.

Back at the trailer, soaking wet. Half of that is sweat from the heat and her early-on incident at the muddy crossing (which she didn't bat an eye at going back across.... go figure), and half of that is from the river. I had already removed her hind boots by then... the moment we got back to the trailer she began to systematically kick them off, and I was only just able to jump down and pull them off before they ended up around her ankles.

It will be interesting to see if her hot attitude chills out a little bit as she becomes more accustomed to going places and doing things again. I'll be keeping an eye out for belly issues even though she is already on aloe juice... between her biting the trailer when currying her belly and starting out so spicy hot on the trails today, you never know. Mares!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Torture Day!

Yesterday was Pangea's weekly pool day, a few days later than usual given the fact that I did not wake up to my SIX alarms on Wednesday and was therefore late to work instead of early to the barn to pick her up on time. (Not my usual... I was totally thrown off all day long. Hate that.) Yesterday was also our first trot day in the pool, which I am very excited about - this should give her the strength and flexibility she needs to prevent Pogo Trot when she begins her warmups under saddle. The AquaTread puts a mean topline on everything it sees, I can attest to that!

She did a power walk for 8 minutes, trotted for 3, then power walked again for 4. Absolutely no need to do more than 3 minutes of trot... fitness will come in time. Soundness, strength and flexibility are all products of smart choices when it comes to fitness and there isn't any need to rush. We're not exactly training for Medal Finals or anything.

In terms of her conditioning, while I have started to very lightly play around with other speeds (mostly to just get an assessment of how she is feeling under saddle), mostly I am still doing all of my work at the walk. I believe in walking for fitness - those of you who read the Eventing-A-Gogo blog will remember our weekly 2 hour walk hacks to Dunkin Donuts - and did most of exclusively as roadwork in an effort to turn her tendons into iron. Of course, that did absolutely nothing for her as she blew both hind SDFTs out at the end of the season... so much for that idea. At least my mind was in the right place? Maybe? I try not to think about it too much anymore because it makes me too sad.

Aside from all that, I am super happy to report that her manners have vastly improved over the course of the past few weeks. She only needs to be scolded for naughty behavior once (at most, twice), and then she understands and doesn't try it again. Last week she was a pawing maniac in the barn, completely ignoring every reprimand I gave her in her persistence. This week, I tried a different tactic: completely ignoring her when she paws. This seemed to have a profound effect on her mind. I noticed that when she was pawing and I scolded her, she perked her ears towards me and occasionally nickered while still continuing to paw. Basically, any sort of noisy attention I was giving her was good fun, and she in her own way felt as though she was being rewarded for it. D'oh! How about we take two on that one. Her brain finally wrapped around this idea of "pawing = no attention" when we pulled up in the trailer for our swim date at the barn. She wanted to get OFF the trailer RIGHT NOW, so she started to paw as I went for the side door. And I walked away. I made it all the way into the barn before she realized I was no longer there, and stopped. I walked back. When she saw me coming out the window, she started to paw again. I turned around, and walked away. She stopped. I turned back around, and walked towards her. She started to paw again. I walked away. And so on until the wheels turned in her head and she stopped pawing the moment I started to walk away. "Crap, she is leaving when I do that... maybe I should stop it" would be what was floating above her head had she been able to produce a visible thought bubble. She eventually stopped entirely, and I unloaded her. The effect lasted on into the barn, where she refused to paw even once when I was walking around to and away from her. She did paw every time a horse got in or out of the treadmill, but with a verbal "quit!" from me, she stopped immediately. (Yes!!)

Following her pool session, she got a full on bubble bath completely with salon-style tail care, spritzed down with conditioner and fly spray as a finisher. Yep, our flies are out in full force... we've had spring weather for weeks and weeks and the bugs are mad crazy already! (Oh, and the black widows too... the black widows are EVERYWHERE. I'm amazed I haven't been bitten yet... I'm sure that time is coming, and you'll get to hear about a lovely story like this one.)

And as a final torture session, Pangea got to enjoy the Theraplate for 30 minutes while drying!

She was a good girl and walked right into the stocks with no issue. We keep the Theraplate there in the stocks because a) it fits perfectly and b) we can tie up a quiet horse and leave it to cook there for 30 minutes while we do other things without worrying about it moving/leaving/wigging/etc. If you've never seen a Theraplate, it's essentially one big humming, vibrating metal plate that you stand on for vibration therapy. Like hyberbaric chambers, Theraplates are being toted as the next big fix-everything miracle machine... only time will tell if that is true or not.

She was mostly a very good girl around standing quietly on her own little personal earthquake pad, save for a moment of uncertainty when it first begain. It feels incredibly weird at first, so I can't blame her! I think I will also start standing on it whenever I get a moment.... my back has been killing me and I need some relief!

What a good girl. Well, almost...

I was going to trail ride today but had a new client to attend to with several horses, so I spent most of my time doing that instead. We'll see tomorrow how she feels under saddle!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fun in the Sun

Just a few goofy pictures from our bareback jaunt today....

She's such a good girl. She neck reins too... found that out today by surprise!

Can you see the bit of gleaming coat poking through on her neck and shoulders, underneath what is left of her scraggly old winter coat?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On Riding Pangea

Pangea has been working for a few weeks now exclusively at the walk, and has been doing very well. She moves equally well off both legs, takes the same contact in both reins, responds to half-halts, and increases impulsion as asked. For the most part, she is easy to work with, takes a contact right when asked, and stays at a nice forward pace the whole time. Somebody obviously spent some time putting a good solid base on her. The girl's got the some skills.

Her evasion of choice is to break at the 3rd vertebrae and go too deep, or occasionally bounce off the contact instead of staying steady. For a horse with a long, elegant neck who was ridden in the not too distant past by novices, this is a fairly common evasion. Thankfully, Gogo gave me a set of very quiet hands (due to the fact that after she was abused, her reaction to unforgiving hands was to rear and occasionally flip over), and so with some encouragement and tact I can coax a nice solid contact out of her at the walk. At the trot and canter, however, her immediate response is HERE IS MY CONTACT HOLD ME. Which is nice in comparison... but she still wants to get too deep when she gets hangy.

When I say at the trot and canter, I also mean that I have very briefly trotted and cantered her twice this week. My original plan had been to walk for a month, trot for a month, and canter for a month, but immediately it became clear that this rehab plan is not going to work for her. An older mare who hasn't done much of anything for the past 6 years following a whump to her stifle? She's stiff, and she needs limbering up. When starting out at the trot, she feels a bit like she is made up of two different horses, one in front and one in back. However, if you let her canter a lap or two around in each direction, she is immediately ten times more supple and active. Observe what happens with a bit of canter on a long rein:

I also got up off of her back in a half seat (well, sort of.... kind of hard to do in a dressage saddle) and just let her cruise for a moment. She felt ten times better than she did before the canter. That is the kind of contact she wants to take on a long rein, which is nice... she is interested in the downward stretch, something I really like to see.

So maybe it's unorthodox... but I'm starting our fitting up work with canter first. Why not? There is no reason to trot around with her feeling like a pogo stick horse for an indefinite amount of time if a little bit of canterwork before the trot limbers her up safely. That's not to say I'm going to immediately be doing walk-canters right from the get go - a bit of trot before the canter is certainly fine - but I will primarily, for the moment, be using canter as my gait of choice for fitness and limbering. Once she builds up her hind end, stretches everything out, and gets back to a regular level of fitness, we can go back to a more orthodox warmup. It's all up to her of course, and what her body can or can not handle.... only time will tell there.

On an unrelated note, I am super impressed with her vit/min supplement. Three weeks of being on it, and she is suddenly shedding out all her old and ratty winter hair to reveal the most beautiful, dark, gleaming, shiny, soft coat underneath. She is positively glowing! I'm also betting the Cosequin will start making her feel much better pretty soon as well... I usually give a joint supplement about a month before I decide whether or not it is helping. Adequan will make a difference for her too I bet, once she starts.

"You have COOKIES? Ok here I come!!!!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Part II: Hoof Face

After Pangea's successful swim session, I bathed her up, scraped her off, and tied her up outside in the sunshine to dry off. She was sparkling, shiny, and.... pawing up a huge dust cloud. Her gleaming socks? Covered in red dirt. Her gleaming coat? Dingy and crusted. Watching her digging a neverending hole to China, my frown increased. From somewhere behind me, I heard a voice chime in. "Why don't we start hobble training her?" I turned around, thought about it for a moment, and agreed. I am not a fan of hobbles - to me, they looks like tendon injuries waiting to happen - but sure, why not. She's a smart mare, what could go wrong?

Yep. Famous last words, as usual.

Pangea showed no interest in the hobbles at first. She was unphased by them flapping around her legs, touching her, and being attached to her. I was warned that horses with hobbles on for the first time do any number of things, from leaping and rearing to falling over completely (why are we doing this again?), so to just be prepared for whatever comes next. And I thought I was... and I was wrong. Without warning, she reared and struck out with both front feet, and was overtop of me before I even knew what was happening. She caught me with both front feet on the back of the head and neck on her back down. Hard.

Momentarily stunned, glasses knocked to the ground, I could only stumble out of the way as she flailed, watching my glasses get stomped repeatedly into the ground through my blurred vision. After a moment, she stopped, immediately graduating from confusion to understanding about the hobbles. I retrieved my glasses, awkwardly bent them back into place, and stood blinking for a moment. After we determined that I did not have any sort of apparent head injury, we did what any horse people would do. We continued the training session.

After only a few minutes, she was moving each leg independently, the wheels in her brain turning intelligently. As for me, I went home feeling a bit unwell with a giant goose egg on my head, broken glasses, and a few abrasions on my face and neck, but otherwise I am fine.

How about next time I try actual training instead of a shortcut in order to correct a vice? Yeah, that's a thought.

As a side note, isn't it nice that all of Gogo's old things fit Pangea?

It rained on and off for a few days and was a bit chilly last week, so she spent lots of time getting herself absolutely covered in filth everywhere that she could outside of her blanket. (At least she stayed SOMEWHAT clean under it.)

Nice mane....

And non-sarcastically, nice NECK! Looking quite a bit better already, don't you think?

And there are STILL more updates to come!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Catch-Up Part I: So many updates, I have to split them up!

I have so many things to catch up on, I can't possibly put them into one blog update alone!

We last left off with me having a broken computer, and prior to that, I hadn't blogged since Pangea's first AquaTread session. Let's begin this entry with a schedule de-briefing, shall we? I'm treating Pangea's reconditioning essentially as a rehab, taking it extra slow and methodical. I see absolutely no reason to rush anything, and want to put a solid base on her before I get out and start yahooing around. (Which I desperately want to do.... but that will come in time!) We're starting all our work at the walk, with varying amounts of on the bit work, stretching, lateral work, hillwork, and work on the trail. I'd throw cavalettis in there too if I could find a few.... unfortunately, they are a bit hard to come by at a barn primarily boarded at by barrel racers. Texas problems.
The schedule for the past two weeks has been three rides and one AquaTread session each week, all at the walk. The first week we only walked for 30 minutes each ride, half on the bit/stretching and half on a loose rein, and a 15 minute walk session in the AquaTread. This week, that has been increased to 40 minutes a ride at the walk, with 25 of it on the bit/stretching and 15 on a long rein. We do lots of changes of direction, varying circles, suppling, and have just started going sideways a bit. Next week, we'll ride four days a week instead of three, as well as go on the AquaTread once. I MAY start trotting her on the AquaTread this week, but may wait until I start getting ready to trot under saddle.

Pangea's second AquaTread session went wonderfully, with her walking right in of her own accord without any hesitation. Having trained all types of horses to get into the water, I can safely say that this is not the norm! It usually takes three or so sessions until a horse normally walks in without any sort of extra assistance on our part, but not in Pangea's case! She just wanted to show all of her counterparts up. It took us a half hour today to get a horse into the water on his second try... it took a second one an eternity to even load into the chute for his second try.... it took her about 3 seconds to walk right in of her own accord. Excellent mare.

From the top of the AquaTread, you also get a very interesting and clear view of your horse's back:

No glaring abnormalities here! Sometimes you can really see when a horse is out of alignment chiropractically. She could use an adjustment (and will receive one shortly), but she doesn't have anything serious going on. Gogo, on the other hand, was ridiculously crooked and it was glaringly obvious when she was in the pool.

However, she wasn't completely perfect for this entire AquaTread ordeal. In fact, things took quite a turn for the worse afterwards..... but you'll have to wait for Part II to find out why!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Broken Computer

Quick update: lots to write about, but my computer exploded. Oh, and I also took blunt trauma to my head from rearing hooves. I'm fine but it's a very interesting story. Hopefully my computer will be back online soon and I can fill you all in!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


The more time I spend with Pangea, the more I think that I really have found a little diamond in the rough. Despite her little stubborn streak, she is quiet, tractable, easy, and entirely too smart for her own good. Oh, and sound and fine and amazingly well trained to boot. Bonus after bonus. She has her little issues, that's for sure, but for the most part she's a total peach.

Wednesday morning, I got up very early in order to be at the barn hooking up my trailer and loading miss Pangea. Our destination: my workplace, so that Pangea could have her first AquaTread experience! I've been lucky enough in the past to have access to a dry treadmill when rehabbing Gogo, and am now lucky enough to have access to any number of therapies that I need for Pangea should she ever need them. The AquaTread is also a perfect tool for conditioning, which is what I intend to use it for in this case.

A little bit more about our AquaTread, from the HydroHorse website:

"The HydroHorse LLC Submerged Treadmill Systems are a high tech engineering combination of a treadmill, whirlpool, and swimming pool. They are designed to aid in the therapeutic healing, strengthening, conditioning, and training of all types of horses. In essence, the horse is partially buoyant in a specially designed water filled tank, which at the same time allows contact with the treadmill.

Unlike traditional swimming pool therapy, the horse can exercise in a controlled environment, using its normal gait and the same muscles as in use while exercising on the track without undue stress or trauma.
This form of exercise in temperature controlled water with the powerful therapeutic effects derived from the system’s Jacuzzi jets ensures proper and controlled conditioning for virtually every facet of the animal’s body while reducing concussion and thus rendering the equine athlete to be better equipped to withstand the rigors of performance and to remain competitive for longer periods of time. Equine treadmills are also known as Aquatreds, or Aquacisers but the function remains the same.

How Treadmills Help Horses Recover From Injuries:
Our aquatred systems may be used for treating injuries such as bowed tendons, pulled suspensory ligaments, bucked shins, and saucer fractures, quarter cracks or foot problems and generally for the rehabilitation of the animal after any injury or surgery. The lungs and heart of the animal receive maximum conditioning, which increases their capacity thus minimizing possibility of bleeding while performing. Bones become denser and more compact and the tendency of the perisoteum of the cannon bones becoming inflamed is greatly reduced and can be virtually eliminated with the aid of a treadmill.

Properly controlled exercise in the treadmill adds significant tone and conditioning to the back and stifle muscles and would make ‘tying up’ during the early stages of training less apt to occur. There are known cases, where a horse was badly injured but after treatment on a treadmill system, came back to be a winner!

Why Treadmills are Better for Horses:
HydroHorse LLC Systems are designed to relieve stress. They have been proven to be powerful tools for rehabilitation, training and conditioning of horses as the animals are less traumatized because they remain in contact with a solid surface beneath them, under controlled conditions.
Our systems allow a horse to exercise basically the same muscles, tendons, and ligaments used when working out on the track without the constant unyielding concussion of the surface track. The buoyancy of the water displaces approximately 40% to 45% of the body weight – while contact with the treadmill and thrust of working against the water still affords sufficient concussion to promote bone density and encourage muscle development, while minimizing injury. This cannot be achieved in a conventional swimming pool where movement involves "up-hill" thrusts and an unnatural ‘all-out’ type of flexation, which could be harmful and could cause ‘stress’ and ‘trauma’ for the animal.

How HydroHorse LLC Treadmill Systems Help in Conditioning:
Early conditioning on treadmill systems helps tendons, ligaments and joint capsules to tighten and increase in tensile strength and thus prepares a horse for the heavier training required to prepare the animal for the race track or equestrian shows. Additionally, this form of hydrotherapy involves a massaging action produced by air and water jets, which create a whirlpool effect smoother and more constant than can be done by hand.

Horses love this relaxing and invigorating form of training and both vets & trainers agree that this hydrotherapy system is physically and psychologically beneficial to the animal."

When Gogo went on the AquaTread for the first time, she walked right in like she couldn't care less. We NEVER see that the first time... it takes some persuasion and positive reinforcement on almost every case. We use any combination of tools - buttrope, crop, voice, chain over the nose - but we NEVER force them, drag them, hit them, drug them, or pull them in. We let them take one tiny step at a time if they need to, and for however long it takes. With this approach, and positive reinforcement, we always get the horse in within a few minutes, and we don't have one single seasoned horse who doesn't walk right in.

(Pangea says, uhhhhh what the heck??)

As for Pangea, she walked into the chute and gave it a good hard look. She had seen two "role model" horses walk in before her, so she had a basic idea that this thing was not a horse-eating monster, but she paused to think about it for a moment. With a little encouragement (me lightly pulling her lead rope, my other handler standing near her hind end clucking and twirling her crop), she hunkered down, snorted a time or two, and then walked herself right in. Seeing as we get some that launch and leap in, some that slide in on their hind legs, and some that flail and resist the entire time, this was so easy!! It didn't take her more than a minute or two to get in. Once on the treadmill, she figured her legs our pretty quickly, and we settled for a nice power walk for 15 minutes. A 15 minute session in the pool at the trot is equivalent to trotting for an hour in an arena in terms of muscle work... so there is so much less wear and tear and pounding on legs! They build the muscles they need without experiencing the same level of hard concussion that they would on solid ground. (There is undoubtedly a need for concussion in order to strengthen bones and tendon/ligs, but not so much that you risk fatiguing the muscles and, in turn, stressing these structures. It's all about walking a fine line.)

At the end of her 15 minute walk, Pangea was pooped. It's hard work, walking against the resistance of water! Her heartrate was up, and she was breathing rather heavily. Her vitals returned to normal quickly, but the fact that a simple walk caused her to be that tired shows how seriously out of shape she is. (Under saddle, she has broken a sweat every time... at a walk. So out of shape. Seriously.)

Good mare! Aside from pawing in the barn (urrrrrrrg), she was lovely. We'll be back for the AquaTread again next week!