Dr. Persephone McCrae

Dr. Persephone McCrae , SRSU Assistant Professor of Animal Science, has recently participated in the publication of revised guidelines for the use of equine water treadmills.

McCrae is a member of the Equine Hydrotherapy Working Group, which is an international group of researchers who conduct conditioning and rehabilitation research with horses.

The new guidelines were published and endorsed by the British Equestrian Federation.

McCrae said equine water treadmills have gained popularity over the last decade as a means to both condition and rehabilitate horses.

“The rationale behind using water treadmills for sport horses lies in the unique properties of water — the combined resistance and buoyancy of water allows for an increased workload, without an increase in stress applied to the limb,” said McCrae. “This is key for sport horses, where a majority of the injuries that we see are associated with the repeated concussion of the hoof against the ground during training.”

Research conducted by Dr. McCrae has shown that water treadmills can effectively be used to increase fitness, while also promoting increased joint range of motion and minimizing concussive forces.

The guidelines provide research-informed recommendations for the use of equine water treadmills, including how to introduce a new horse to the water treadmill, best practices and integration of water treadmill exercise into training and rehabilitation programs.

The guidelines were produced by the Equine Hydrotherapy Working Group, which has members across North America, China, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.

“While water treadmill use has become increasingly common in how we train and treat athletic horses, we were lacking a consensus on best practices,” said McCrae. “This document allows users to integrate water treadmill exercise into their conditioning and rehabilitation protocols in a very targeted and directed way.”

“We hope that this will allow users all over the world to experience the benefits that we have observed in research and in practice,” she said.

Details on the new guidelines can be found at https://www.britishequestrian.org.uk/assets/NEWS/HPY_WT_DOC_APRIL2020_RELEASE%20(003).pdf.

For more information, contact Dr. McCrae at (432) 837-8465 or email persephone.mccrae@sulross.edu.