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Improve your barrel horse's strength - Body sound equine



Previously in the top line series we’ve talked about how rehabilitating my gelding’s back has taken many steps to progress. In part 1 we paid close attention to alleviating anything preventing the scapula from swinging to full stride. Part 2 was all about exercises to build up those top line muscles in their back. Then, in the lastest post I gave you guys some insight on why your saddle might be the culprit of poor stride length. Now we’re going to put it all together. 

The Aqua Pacer is a water treadmill with different benefits than swimming a horse in a pool.

In this post I will talk about some additional modalities that are basically guaranteed to give you results. If you apply part one, two and three and keep an open mind to part 4 you will undoubtedly see some amazing progress with your horse’s top line and health. “Winning means  you’re willing to go longer, to work harder, and to give more than anyone else.”

That’s exactly what we did…We drove to Texas; where a colleague of mine has an excellent exercise and rehab facility. Bar L Equine Conditioning Facility (owned by Linda Tatum) had a few more tactics up its sleeve than I carried in my own tool box. Vibration therapy, and an Aqua-pacer are two of the things Linda offers to her clients. I was lucky enough to document the results over 10 days. My reason to invest into intensive therapy was so that my horse could re-learn health movement patterns and get over the ‘hump’ in the safest and more efficient was possible. So with a combination of all the techniques mentioned in previous blog posts, we began a daily routine to get fit.

Every morning we would start out on the padded  ‘equineciser’ (free flow walker) for about 20 minutes. This was great because the floor was cushioned and didn’t contribute harsh concussion to his already flat and compacted soles. Once his muscles were warmed up, we added an extra element of circulation with the EquiVibe plate. This was also a 20 minute session on the panel, which seemed to be an effective amount of time. From the plate we made sure to red light his top line points (as spoken of in previous posts) so that it would assist with lymph drainage, as well as prepare his muscles for the Aqua Pacer treadmill. Once in the Aqua-Pacer, we sent him in for about 10 minutes of low-concussion, high resistance exercise session. To finish off our therapy we sent him back in the ‘hot walker’ for a few minutes to stretch out and dry off. After about 6 swimming sessions, 12 vibe sessions and multiple red light and hot walker sessions my horse’s back went from rigid fascia, to nice round sloping toned fibers!

In this video I interview Linda about her equipment she uses for her customers, and she’s no dummy to the WHY and HOW of the operation! Please watch if you are interested!

Here is why I’m obsessed with Linda’s facility: it is the epitome of integrated therapy. If you follow the suggested session order and length you will attain exponential health benefits for your horse, and assuredly get more for your money as well. Think about this, if you were trying to get in shape for a marathon you couldn’t just run the same exact 3 mile track every day and expect to be prepared. But if your work-out was thorough and included, stretching, muscle building, toxin ridding, fascia releasing, and mentally stimulating components then you would probably be the one to beat.

By properly and gently warming up the muscles on the hot walker, it prepares the horse to (not only sit still) receive all the benefits of the vibration plate. Equi-Vibe says on their site “One of the immediate effects of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) is improved circulation of both blood and lymph. Anything that can improve circulation is of significant benefit to the equine athlete, and the total horse population. Increased blood flow improves oxygenation of the tissues, removal of toxins and metabolic waste, and enhances the body’s ability to heal itself, drug free. Designed to increase bone density, reduce muscle soreness and inflammation.”

By properly and gently warming up the muscles on the hot walker, it prepares the horse to (not only sit still) receive all the benefits of the vibration plate. Equi-Vibe says on their site “One of the immediate effects of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) is improved circulation of both blood and lymph. Anything that can improve circulation is of significant benefit to the equine athlete, and the total horse population. Increased blood flow improves oxygenation of the tissues, removal of toxins and metabolic waste, and enhances the body’s ability to heal itself, drug free. Designed to increase bone density, reduce muscle soreness and inflammation.” Linda also adds that at Bar L “We usually run horses between 20-40 Hz most of the session. I’ll run a horse up to 60 Hz for a minute or so, then back down to 40 Hz & finish the session at 20 Hz.  The lower hz range helps increase lymphatic drainage throughout the body.  The medium & higher level frequencies have been shown to reduce joint pain and enhance overall muscle strength. All frequencies help improve bone integrity. Varying the vibration frequency enhances the circulation & overall effect of the vibe plate. Also, my Equi Vibe vibrates vertically rather than in a circular configuration.  This is noteworthy as vertical vibration has been proven to activate the muscle spindle cells within the body of a muscle in order to passively mimic muscle contraction.  Vertical vibration also activates the postural muscles which facilitates better muscle balance & coordination. Tendon injuries need to heal with the fibers re-attaching vertical ly in order to attain the most strength. Vertical vibration is thought to have more of an anatomically “friendly” force on healing tendon injuries vs circular vibration which can be more antagonistic. Plates which vibrate in a circular configuration are also beneficial but recent research findings have found that circular vibration can put torsion on muscles which can provoke mild/minor sprain/ strain according to research studied by Dr. Kyle Daigle. Since we load/unload our skeleton in a vertical manner naturally when walking or running–vertical vibration is proving to be more natural than circular vibration.”

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A decrease FROM an inflamed area is good (top pic) , an increase in circulation TO the hoof capsule is good (bottom pics). One 20 min session.

When red light therapy is administered after (or during) the vibration therapy it promotes a slew of health aspects. From accelerating the healing process to releasing tight fascia and balancing energy meridians it is by far the most versatile tool you can choose to use.  This is a great lead up for the energy it takes to move on the tread mill. It’s also worth noting from PhotonicHealth.com that, “Red Light Therapy has the ability to address physiological, mental, and emotional issues. Healthy cells vibrate at about 660 nanometers. When tissue sustains injury or illness the vibration level in the affected cells goes down. Increasing the vibration level in the cell with the Photonic Red Light is like jump starting a dead car battery; it accelerates the mitochondria within the cell, which increases ATP production.  ATP sends signals to the brain so the brain releases endorphins, serotonin, and more. It has been found, and proven, that the light stimulates the mitochondria within the cell which increases ATP production. Increased ATP production allows damaged cells to accept nutrients more quickly and to eliminate toxins. If administered quickly enough, it can prevent cellular death. This process allows the body to heal itself by reducing/eliminating pain and inflammation, while increasing circulation. It also excites the collagen within the damaged tissue, and allows the body to heal itself faster.”  In addition, the abstract from a study done for lasering bowed tendons concludes that, “results (from lasering) indicate that a significant percent of the (horses) raced with similar or improved times… Lasering bowed tendons presents a safe and less expensive alternative to traditional treatment methods which often requires a year layoff for the horse.”

This is my early morning multi-tasking face. Red light and vibration!

 The treadmill keeps their feet moving at a consistent pace, and the water (variable levels) offers resistance for strength and protection from over developing muscles and stressful pressure from walking on the belt.  Hudson Aquadic Systems gives a great summary of some heath benefits as they relate to a water treadmill workout, “The buoyancy provided by water lessens the weight bearing load on the horse’s limbs. Aqua Pacer’s changing the water levels, resistance and buoyancy can target individual muscle groups and injuries. Water applies pressure to the lower limbs which helps  improve circulation and decrease inflammation. Aqua Pacer’s workout for conditioning and stamina is ideal of all disciplines and levels of training.” It requires a lot of mental concentration on the horse’s part as well. Instead of constant mindless circles while being ridden or stuck in a hot walker, the water treadmill makes them think. They have to keep time with the treadmill, and move balanced and correct in order to make way through the water.  When we were wrapping up a full water work out, we sent my gelding  on the equineciser  for a few minutes to serve at a great cool down from an intense work out from swimming.

If you can’t already start to tell, there are some healing “overlaps”. Meaning, there are many of the same benefits found in vibration therapy, red light therapy, and water therapy. WHY not combine them for the ultimate affect of a sound, comfortable and athletic horse? The domino affect of health can be powerful! Warm up and detoxify muscles with vibration, balance the fascia and increase the circulation to the body with the red light, and when the horse hops on the tread mill the water will ask muscles to work with high resistance  and rhythmic timing. Think of how much that topline is going to be able to reach and lift if it’s been released prior to swimming? Think of how the detoxification process will be sped up with the help of vibration, light and water? Think of how much recovery time will be saved since soreness will be a non-issue? Makes sense to me!

Although I wished time and money would allow for a longer stay and play at Bar L’s Equine Conditioning Center, I feel like we had some amazing results because of all the healing components that were put into action during our stay. The confidence in my horse’s movement improved, circulation in his legs was increased and top line became toned in less than 10 sessions. It took a little extra effort to haul and make arrangement to allow this experience to be possible but you know what they say…”If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten!”

I highly recommend Linda’s facility if you are looking for a place in Texas or the surrounding areas. There are plenty of places with similar attributes as well, if you are willing to internet search a little bit. If your horse is suffering or conflicted with any of the issues listed below I would suggest looking into some type of cellular healing combined with conditioning and vibration therapy to get HEALED and make progress. There is too much proof to ignore…

Healing of: Suspensory issues, tendon/muscle strains and tears, (viral) issues, muscle atrophy, COPD, hoof issues  or injuries, injury lay up exercises, overall or concentrated soreness, wound issues, and lameness. Looking for: low-stress rehabilitation, increased energy, better appetite, improved top line, winning performance, muscle balance and development, stamina, speed, work readiness, safe conditioning, accelerated healing, for non invasive and side affect free progress.

For more info on:

Vibration therapy for horses and here.

Cold laser therapy for horses

Swimming therapy for horses

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