AquaPacer – A water treadmill for horses…

So I when my Gennyral was hurt 3 years ago one of the options was to bring him to a rehab barn after he got the stem cells. Considering the object was for my horse NOT to move with his injury and that I am a bit on the OCD side of things about Gen’s care I decided against a rehab barn and have not given it a second thought since. A friend of Gen’s  barn owner is now working at a rehab facility and so we went over for a visit. And I immediately wished I could go back in time and bring my horse to a rehab facility. The barn was not only clean and inviting, but you could see the attention to detail in every aspect. All well, what is done is done.

One of the coolest parts about this particular rehab facility was the fact that it had a water treadmill for horses. I have read all about them, but up until then had never seen one in person. And let me tell you, it is a really cool thing to see. If you have never had the opportunity to see one you might just think that it is a treadmill but it is so much more! It is just so neat. I missed the last horse of the day using it by only a few minutes so sorry that the pictures of it empty. You should have seen them work on cleaning and sanitizing it. It looked brand new and was totally cleaned in only about 15 minutes.

So this is what the AquaPacer looks like. It looks pretty narrow to me so I asked how many horses will go on it, thinking that most would now. Surprisingly enough most horses do go on without an issue. Maybe because unlike a horse trailer the top is open? At this facility they do get to know the horses before they try them on the AquaPacer. Some horses will get a mild sedative before the first time they go on. Very rarely a horse will get a mild sedative after that. If, after several times, the horse still does not take to it then they go ahead and remove the water treadmill from the rehabilitation plan.

Most horses do like it though. Some of them take to it like a fish to water and cannot wait for their water treatment. Because many of these horses have very sever injuries it is important that they are not forced to do something they do not want to do and risk further injury. The AquaPacer is not just for horses who are hurt, it can also be used for horses for conditioning purposes. Just like swimming is a great exercises for humans because it low impact on the joint the same is true for horses.

If you look to the right on the picture above you can see a box with all sorts of buttons on it. That is the control panel and is also where a person will stand holding the horse. The things you can control are the speed of the treadmill and the height of the water. For some injuries you want the water lower, but others you want the water up high so the horse can really be swimming. There is also an emergency stop in case a problem does occur. At this location they said that the biggest problem with horses and the AquaPacer is boredom. After a while the horse doesn’t find running and not going anywhere very satisfying and so they find other ways to amuse themselves, which are not always very helpful.

Now I know this is kind of hard to see, but the AquaPacer has windows on the side. This is so people can watch the movement of the horse as it moves. Someone can sit there and see how the joints, tendons and ligaments are working. You can also see the two stall guards which are there to help keep the horse in right place.

So you can see the water tanks here. The reason there are water tanks and it is not just hooked directly to a pipe is because of the water temperature. As I am sure everyone with a water tank in their homes know, getting a large amount of water to stay at the same temperature is nearly impossible. These tanks are used to heat and keep the water between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. How nice is that!

So what do you all think? Has anyone ever had a horse that used a water treadmill? If so what was it like? Would you use the treadmill if you could? I think Phoenix would love to use the water treadmill. I am not so sure about Gen.

*and as a side note. If you live near me (and I know most of you don’t know where I live, but chances are if you live by me you know it) and ever need a rehabilitation facility let me know and I will give you the name of this one. It was an amazing facility and I would totally recommend it.*


6 thoughts on “AquaPacer – A water treadmill for horses…

  1. WOW! Who knew?? Thanks for sharing that- god forbid we were ever faced with such a severe injury that Axe would actually have to use a water treadmill for rehab, but it would be comforting to know that such a thing existed- a little bit of hope in the face of catastrophe to keep in the back of one’s brain!

  2. That’s a great device. I wish we could have one at our barn, some of our horses could really benefit from using that. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind getting in and giving it a go. Thanks for sharing.

  3. That’s cool! I used to work in the poolhouse at a Standardbred facility, but the pool was just an actual oval-shaped pool, 15 feet deep, with a ramp leading down into it. There was a wooden “drawbridge” we would raise and lower over the ramp, so they could walk over it or bring horses in/out. Some horses did it for rehab, but there were a bunch that did it as part of their conditioning schedule, too. It was pretty neat! I’ve never seen one of those treadmills up close, though.

    I think if I found a place close enough, and cheap enough, I’d swim Will once or twice a week, just to help keep him fit without pounding on his old joints. I don’t know how he’d feel about it… He enjoys wading and swimming in lakes, but a pool or treadmill might be a different story!

  4. Thanks for discussing about Water Treadmill. I appreciate your work and this blog post. Great work, keep this carry on. I would like to visit again and like to read some more interesting information.

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