Swimming is sometimes a useful therapy. It allows limbs and joints to move without weight which can often be less painful after an injury. The reduction in friction on the joints allows the horse to use their full range of movement.
Often recovering horses are box rested. Muscle atrophy (wastage) can be a problem in these situations. In addition, as they come back into work horses will compensate due to pain by avoiding the concussive forces felt when exercising on the ground. Swimming will allow the muscles to be used whilst eliminating any concussion. Thus helping a horse build up their strength without any imbalance.
It is important that the horse uses all 4 legs in an even pattern to ensure muscles are worked evenly. It is also important to build up the swimming time gradually. Short swims initially will allow the horse to enjoy the experience and build up fitness. Heart rate and respiration rates should be checked before and after and the horse should not be overstressed.
NB: It is a good idea to work with your vet when considering swimming is a therapy.
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