Treadmills For Horses - A Good Idea?
The Queen is investing in a £130,000 equine treadmill for her horses. It will be the UK’s largest automatic horse walker and is to be installed at her stud farm in Sandringham.
The Queen may now be 90 years old but she still rides and she continues to take a keen interest in the fortunes of her racehorses. She is one of this country’s most successful owners and is anxious to give her horses the edge. The yard’s existing automatic walker can only accommodate six horses at one time. Clearly the Queen has decided that it is time for an upgrade. The new model can exercise 18 horses using a 330ft long enclosed track.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="512"] Example of a horse walker[/caption]
How Do Horse Walkers Work?
The equine treadmill works a little differently to the models you see at the gym because it is suspended barriers which move rather than the floor. The speed at which they move is adjustable and the horses are forced to keep pace with them by either walking or trotting.
This type of horse walker has proved somewhat controversial amongst horse-lovers. Some feel that such training facilities are beneficial as they keep horses in first class condition and enable them to warm up and cool down after workouts. They also provide a great way for injured horses to safely exercise whilst they are recovering. But it would be fair to say that they are mostly used to reduce the number of staff required to exercise the horses.
The walkers are often used by yards to exercise horses in livery when their owners are unable to ride them during the week. Some exercise has to be better than no exercise. However, many riders dislike this type of structure as they believe that they are boring for the horses. Unlike when people use a treadmill, the horses cannot stop walking when they wish. They have no control over their exercise sessions.
Staff at the stud and the Queen’s trainers must be doing something right because she has enjoyed more than 1700 winners. Her horses have triumphed in every UK classic except the Derby.
The details of the new horse walker are in the public domain. Planning application had been lodged with King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Council. The debate over the rights and wrongs of horse walkers looks set to continue. What do you think?