Equineciser Free Flow Horse Exercisers
The Equineciser horse exerciser offers an advantage over earlier versions of this type of device: hot walking machines and typical horse walkers. The older style of hot walker required the horse to be tied to an arm of the walker. If a horse pulled back or balked on one of these walkers, he could receive a neck injury. The machines were designed to go at one speed only, for the walk, so they were not suitable for sport conditioning.
The Equineciser horse walker allows the horse to exercise untethered between moving gates, so he can move in a more natural manner, with his head free. A carousel rotates the six gates that provide individual compartments for six horses to exercise and walk freely. There is a distance of 34 feet between each gate, so the horse has plenty of room. When allowed to manage his own speed, a horse will go a little slower at times and a little faster at times. The free flow horse exerciser allows for this natural regulation of energy expenditure, resulting in a more comfortable exercise session.
The Centaur Horse Equineciser can go from 0 to 20 miles per hour, allowing the horse to exercise at all speeds, including the walk, trot, jog, and gallop in both directions. The horse moves between outer and inner fences that are set in concentric circles. The outside fence forms a circle with a diameter of 68 feet. As the horse travels the circle, the footing banks against the outside fence. The faster he goes, the more the surface banks, so limb loading remains even. This is the contrast to lunging in the arena, where the surface is flat, the circle is small, and considerable-torquing force is placed on the limbs. The centrifugal forces are more like those on a racetrack and help the racehorse adapt to that strain. The Exerciser offers an advantage over the high-speed treadmill in that it provides the opportunity to train around a curve, rather than continuously going in a straight line. This might help in the adaptation of the cannon bones to the compressive forces of running around the turn on a track-like-surface in a way that is impossible to achieve on a treadmill.
Horse exercisers can be built with or without a roof, but the roof provides protection from bad weather. Whether the exerciser has a roof or not, the surface is a primary concern so that footing remains good and injuries from bad footing are avoided.
Equinciser horse walkers have been tried on variety of surfaces, and some have proven better than others:
- Sand will compact and become too hard. Sand also freezes and does not break up easily. Frozen footprints in the sand create a choppy surface.
- Wood chips placed on top of sand do not create a satisfactory surface.
- Shredded rubber provides a resilient surface, but is unsatisfactory when placed over sand.
Using the Horse Exerciser
Planning your use of the horse exerciser will follow the same guidelines that you would use for any new equestrian training equipment or training technique. The first time your horse goes in the exerciser the goal is to acclimate him to the equipment. Walk the horse until he is comfortable, usually 15 to 20 minutes. 95% of horses take to the exerciser with no problem during the first session. The technique is to put the horse in, release him, and then turn on the exerciser at walking speed. On the first day of using the exerciser with your horse, do not walk him until he is tired.
The goal of the first few sessions is simply to give the horse an opportunity to be comfortable in the exerciser. Horsemanship is still needed to use this equipment to the benefit of the horse. Observation and attention to task are necessary just as these skills are in any other training program.
Once the horse has become accustomed to walking in the exerciser, plan a gradually increasing program that is based on the fitness goals for each individual horse. Is your goal to maintain the fitness level reached during the summer? Is it to rehabilitate from an injury during the competitive off-season? Is it to increase the horse’s knowledge of new tasks and environments? Plan your training bouts to increase in duration and intensity gradually. Do not try to accomplish all your fitness goals at once.
Using What’s at Hand
You don’t have an indoor exercise facility? You still should be concerned about the surface on which you train when weather leaves footing unsafe, choppy or frozen. If a training path around your paddock is the route you follow, the minimum investment would be to improve the drainage by grading it to a one degree slope under a surface such as those mentioned above- one that will break up easily when the temperature is below freezing. Do not turn horses loose in the training paddock as they will dig holes in your surface and destroy it.
A Safe surface is essential for any training program in the winter so the horse will not lose muscle and cardiovascular conditioning. Injuries to both horse and rider can occur on a slick surface. A surface that is frozen and will not break up promotes sore feet and injuries to joints.
Training for any equine sport requires rapid changes of direction, increases in speed, or negotiating jumps and concussion of the foot on the ground. A surface that provides adequate traction and cushion for your particular equine sport is the ideal surface.