How an AquaPacer Keeps Event Horses Fit

Eventers are a resourceful bunch, as demonstrated by Emily Henderson’s solution to the lack of hills for fitness work where she lives in Largo, Fla. Emily now takes her 8-year-old Thoroughbred to swim in the AquaPacer at Amber Glen Equestrian Center’s rehab facility three times a week. Many thanks to Emily for sharing her story, which will hopefully help other eventers who are struggling without hills. Go Owen!

Owen gets his workout on in the AquaPacer.

From Emily:

What do you do when you live in Florida and have no hills to trot or let alone any land to walk on? You stick your horse on a treadmill and fill it with 800 gallons of course! Owen, my 8-year-old Thoroughbred, and I spent nine weeks in N.C. this past spring with the ever so fabulous Holly Hudspeth and competed a handful of times at prelim under her watchful eye. What is it that they have in N.C.? Oh yeah, LAND AND HILLS. Owen came back to Florida fit and muscular and full of it, which was wonderful! But how to keep it that way … that was my issue.

I am not ashamed to admit that we got eaten alive at Chattahoochie Hills in May, and therefore are spending the summer getting ridiculously fit (thats right, both of us) by taking lessons, learning and jumping the you know what out of skinnies. There is not a hill within 100 miles of us. I understand that a lot of eventers these days have their horses swimming, and it got me thinking. Dilemma — a lot of these pools are too far to drive weekly.

And then it was fate! A local barn, Amber Glen Equestrian Center, opened up a rehab facility at their farm. They’ve got a Theraplate, cold water laser therapy, and the Aqua Pacer! It’s like a fish tank with the floor of a treadmill, to put it simply. Owen walks in, the doors close, he starts walking and then it fills with water. I will admit that I was skeptical, but then after 15 minutes with water above his knees, the big huge nostrils arrived. He was puffing! Silly guy.

Owen at Southern Pines in the prelim rider division. Photo by Brant Gamma.

Research studies show that the AquaPacer at certain speeds and water depths can be equivalent to two days of intense fitness work. Crazy, right? Owen gets to “swim” three days a week, lucky guy, and alternates between knee deep water and chest deep water. The knee deep water makes them lift their legs as if they are doing cavalettis and really gets those hind legs moving! The deeper water makes the horse PUSH … like a hill, right? I like to think so.

I wanted to share this with our eventing community because I know for a fact that I am not the only one with less than stellar land for fitness work (nothing against the barn I am at, there are just no hills or huge open fields where I live!). There are ways to make it work; we just have to search and ask others! Enjoy this little video of Owen loving life, and maybe spooking at the water in the AqauPacer.

Go Owen, and Go Eventing!

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