Why you and your horse need the beach
Lets go to the beach, beach. Let's go get a wave!
A little side hobby of mine is going for a surf. If I am ever feeling like I need a revitalizing lift I take my surfboard or SUP down to the beach. There is nothing like sitting or standing on your board looking out to the horizon. This is the perfect time to switch off and in a way, meditate. My busy mind can finally empty out for an hour before having to get back to the daily grind. I find it is the best feeling when you decide to dive under the first wave and wet your hair. A refreshing, invigorating, energizing surge of emotions hits me, leaving all my stress back in the car park. I find it a challenge to get to the beach in winter because Victoria doesn't exactly have the warmest water. I prefer to take the dog down to the beach for a gentle walk. It is just as therapeutic for the mind, body and spirit.
As common knowledge most people know that salt water is extremely good for YOU. It is enriched with many minerals such as sodium, chloride, magnesium, sulphate and calcium. Bathing in the water can be very helpful for many skin conditions, psoriasis is one example. Generally sea water is also cooler compared to other water sources (especially when you love hot showers like me), studies have shown that regular exposure to cold sea water can help you manage physiological stresses. Your white blood count can also increase which significantly boosts immunity. Some other very useful benefits of the sea include;
- Healing properties for any wounds
- Sinusitis or respiratory issues,
- Relieve depression and anxiety
- Enhanced function of parasympathetic system
The more I type this the more I am itching to get in that sea water. Even though it is winter and the water is freezing, I guess COLD WATER IT IS, its good for you right?
Now don't worry I haven't forgotten about our precious HORSES.
All the benefits of cold sea water I have mentioned earlier all relate to our horses. Horses need the water just as much as we do. It is crazy how horses are affected by water therapy in a similar way to us. Many racehorse trainers take their horses down to the beach instead of constantly working on the same track. This is a great mental stimulation for them. I have ridden many racehorses down the beach and I can say from experience that once the horses start working and walks in the water they absolutely LOVE IT!!
Exercising your horse on the beach is also great as it reduces impact loading on their muscles and tendons. After a long hard gallop on the beach there is a lot of lactic acid and possible inflamed areas. By having direct access to entering the cold water instantly the chance of swelling tissues reduces. Other great benefits of using cold water therapies for horses are:
- Improved endurance
- Muscle strength
- Joint mobility
- Reduced limb oedema
There have been recent studies that have compared hot and cold water therapies on sporting athletes. The results showed that cold water therapy is significantly better than hot or warm water. After intense exercise muscles can tear. Having the ability to wade in the water helps repair any damages. Entering the water instantly is recommended however they will still get the same benefits 24 hours after exercise. Horses can get what you call a delay onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). The cooler water reduces the chance of DOMS due to the cold water constricting blood vessels and creating the lactic acid to drain away. Swelling and tissue breakdown is then minimalised.
I can't believe that a place that nature provides us with, for free, can be so HEALTHY. Us riders need to utilise the therapeutic properties of the beach to ensure that we can be mentally and physically prepared for what our horses can throw at us. Not only us, the horses deserve the chance to also benefit from the beach. Once they learn that the sand and waves are not going to eat them alive they will learn to love it!
I can not express any more, go hook the float up this weekend and head off to your local horse beach!
Acknowledgements: Photo credit to @barwonhdr, give him a follow on instagram for more amazing photos!
Cate Steel. Be Wise about water exercise. 2009 Cited: 23-08-17, Website. https://cdn.racing.com/-/media/rv/files/vet-forms/rv_902_vet_water_flyer_210x297_fa02.pdf?la=en
Michelle Anderson, Hydrotherapy options. Cited 23-08-17 Website: http://www.circleoakequine.com/images-ee/uploads/Equine_hydrotherapy.pdf
Higgin TR, Greene DA, Baker MK, Effects of Cold Water Immersion and Contrast Water Therapy for Recovery From Team Sport: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, May 2017. Medicine National Institute of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27398915