More than just splashing around

Feb 7, 2022

By Terry Kennedy

Water training has become an integral part of racehorse training programs but perhaps more importantly, a fun part that nearly all racehorses look forward to.

When you think of water and training it is natural to think of rehabilitation but for a racehorse it can be the vehicle to better balance, higher workload rates and coordination.

Looking first at deep water or pool training, swimming is very intensive: for a horse 10 minutes of swimming equals a normal 1 hour-training session. It is good cardiovascular training in which endurance is built under almost non-existent impact conditions. It ensures the horse has to use all of its muscle groups which results in an improved metabolism, blood flow and oxygen-intake.

It is a significant strength builder too, both force and dimension wise. What is most useful for a racehorse is how they use their back end. The water work gives them a stronger topline, develops their balance and coordination to deal with different conditions. 

You can see Hot Spring Gold (QLD Rogues) is almost switched off enjoying the motion of the water around him. The perfect way to exercise!

Perhaps Bellinger (VIC Husslers)  enjoys the post swim wipe down even more than his dip! Check him out below:

You also have water treadmills which are an excellent way of getting water-based recovery and training without having to completely submerge the horse or take it to an outside environment.

But pools are not the only water environments used in training. Many trainers are geographically positioned to take advantage of nearby coastline with their horses enjoying every minute of it. The beach sand is soft and gives under their stride and the sea water can clean any nicks or cuts naturally. The water and sand even provide a massaging effect. Even lakes provide a beautiful water training session, Team Captain (VIC Husslers) certainly enjoys a lake session with Cumani Racing.

And key to keeping the interest level in training high, beach trips and lake trips give the horse and rider a chance for some down time whilst still exercising. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love the relaxing effect of a trip to the water?