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Horse Treadmills?

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  • Horse Treadmills?

    I was recently viewing stalls because we will be having a barn built on our property, and i saw one site had horse treadmills! They looked very interesting (not for $40,000 though), has anyone ever seen one going or a horse on one? I mean like, do you use them like hot-walkers or are they used for conditioning or hand walking? Any opinions on them?

  • #2
    Michigan State University uses one for a lot of projects. Gait studies, conditioning, air intake during conditioning studies, air exchange in gaits and they have put a lot of horses on it over the years. I am pretty sure they can gallop on it.

    I think a treadmill is better than a horse walker, since horse is going straight, not always bent in circles like when on a small horse walker.

    Among the Amish, they are using the horse treadmills to power storage batteries that run machines off the grid. Mixers, washers, refridgerators, water pumps. Horse Progress Days shows styles of improved horse treadmills, the many ways a treadmill can be used around the farm. I ESPECIALLY liked the treadmill powering the hay elevator to fill the barn! I see a lot of justice in having a horse "work for his supper", for once! Very neat seeing all the ideas Amish folks have put into being usable, with the treadmill for power.


    • #3
      I know someone who has one. He uses it for conditioning horses, mostly at the walk. The horses who won't be ridden that day get about an hour and the others get 20min before work - this way they are already warmed up when he hops on!

      I think its a great tool for a busy rider or yard.


      • #4
        I used to board at a barn that also did race horse conditioning on a treadmill. They galloped on it, so you could hear the hooves pounding away from that part of the barn. I was not a fan of the program...you could always tell the horses that were on the treadmill a lot as they looked cripple walking down the aisle.

        One of my horses spent rehab time on an underwater treadmill when he was coming back from an injury. That worked well for him and I know the place got a lot of stock type halter horses in for work too, specifically to get them fit for showing. The treadmill work with the water resistance really put a butt on them! It also didnt have the impact of the old style one at the race barn ( and they only walked and trotted).


        • #5
          What website was it?? My trainer has been interested in finding one.
          runnjump86 Instagram

          Horse Junkies United guest blogger


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by runNjump86 View Post
            What website was it?? My trainer has been interested in finding one.


            • #7
              I just started taking my horse to an aqua treadmill. It is really neat. I have only seen the aqua treadmills in use not the plain treadmill.
              They start the horse walking on the treadmill first and then add the water as they are walking. Since my horse is unfit he walks crooked when the water is only up to his knees. Once it is up to mid ribcage he is walking straight. So for Finnegan I would prefer the aquacizer to one without water.
              Silly guy when the water was just above the knees he was trying to splash and play with his front legs. That wasn't working real well because the treadmill is still going.
              Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


              • #8
                a barn i worked at had a race horse (standardbred) come from newfoundland that had been on a treadmill for a few months due to all the snow and lack and anywhere else to exercise him. he looked great, but his stride was really short and he was not able to start racing as soon as his owner wanted, he needed so much more conditioning.

                i also herd of a vet clinic that had a horses going full speed and the machine stopped, horse flew off and hit the wall !! dont know all the details but wow scary.

                the barn i keep one of my horses at has a equisizer thing, goes whatever speeds both ways but he hardly ever goes on it. i dont really see the point!


                • #9
                  Other than the underwater treadmills, I wouldn't suggest using a treadmill for conditioning. Humans who run on treadmills are often astounded to discover they can't run at all in the real world, because the workout on the treadmill doesn't actually use the muscles properly- in the real world, you move your legs forward and back, and also PUSH against the ground. On the treadmill you just move your legs with no real pushing effort. The underwater treadmills, the water provides resistance against moving the legs so it's a very effective workout.


                  • #10

                    This is a very interesting video from Rood& Riddle showing their treadmill endoscopy and different breeds at different gaits on their treadmill.

                    This seems exceptionally dangerous to me- so I would not undertake it lightly- I also would fearfully love to actually stand besid a horse moving at race speed- I can't even imagine!!

                    I have seen working treadmills for "horsepower" IRL- and they are pretty fun and not quite as intimidating...the one that is always a draw at horse progress days makes ice cream (not as if that's the most effective use of the power- but it does help to draw a crowd on a hot summer day. My favorite was a wood splitter.


                    • #11
                      Remember - there are two types of treadmills. One is a high speed treadmill - like at the universities for the gait and air intake studies. The other is a walking treadmill - like the one at Classic Equine. I have seen the high speed one in use at research facilities. Neat, but I wouldn't use it myself for daily conditioning (besides they are super expensive).

                      However, I have used a walking treadmill before for conditioning horses. The thing to remember about these treadmills is that they are in no way designed to put cardio fitness into a horse. A treadmill, when properly used, improves stride length and cadence. It encourages a horse to stretch across their topline developing strength in their back. When you add the incline it helps replicate hill work and will give more "push" behind. This would be more like pilates for horses - developing core strength and balance.

                      Many trainers also use it for warm up and cool down. If you put a horse on one just prior to riding it shortens the ring warmup time allowing for more focused under saddle time. Same goes for cool down. My horses always loved the treadmill. I used it for both my eventer and rehab TB (tendon injury). For rehabbing it is great. Handwakling a fit horse that has been stall bound for 30+ days is difficult. They don't seem to attempt the same silliness in the treadmill. If utilized properly, they are fantastic, IMO.


                      • #12
                        I had and used one for about seven years. Worked great for muscling up halter horses....but the performance horses got short strided. I finally quit using it altogether for the horses, but my hounds loved it.
                        "Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them."
                        -Richard S. Bach


                        • #13
                          I met Jill from Horse Gym recently. We did a demo with my goofy & nervous horse walking on the treadmill. Jill was both friendly and knowledgeable. I recommend talking to her if you are interested in learning about this machine.