horse hydrotherapy

Rehabbing Restricted Equine Motion by Allen Gutowski

Check out the current issue of Modern Equine Vet for ECB Spa client Dr. Steve Adair's recommendations on rehabbing horses. Dr. Adair runs the University of Tennessee's Veterinary Teaching Hospital. CLICK HERE for the article. 

“The ECB Equine Spa is an integral part of our management of equine distal limb swelling resulting from wounds, tendonitis and lymphedema. It significantly reduces overall hospitalization time in these cases.”

— Dr. Steve Adair, III, MS, DVM, DACVS - Associate Professor of Equine Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Haras du Saubouas in France Expands and Installs ECB Spa by Allen Gutowski

Paul Basquin of Haras du Saubouas on adding high-quality equipment, like the spa:

"We work with a lot of trainers from the South-West and different veterinary clinics. We regularly receive horses at rest and also horses who need care. The spa is, to me, the most efficient thalassotherapy machine. It allows the treatment of tendon injuries and bone damages with excellent results and upgraded recovery time. It also ensures to ease the limbs and joints after a big effort or a trauma. It is very efficient in the case of a laminitis. It is full of very cold saline water (2 degrees), with oxygen coming through the ground and spread on the limbs at a high pressure. This water can cover all the joints, fetlocks, knees and hocks."

Ice, Ice, Baby: The science of hydrotherapy | HORSE NATION by Allen Gutowski

Check out this article from Horse Nation:

Applying hot and/or cold treatments to our horses is an everyday occurrence, but do you know why it works? Amanda Moretz, a vet tech and equine massage therapist, explains.

From Amanda:

The act of hosing off a horse takes place on a daily basis in barns throughout the world–most commonly for horses who have just finished a workout and need to be cooled down and have all the sweat cleaned from their coats.  It is also common after multiple forms of injuries, using cold water on the area that was affected.  Or maybe the horse just had a very intense workout or show and the owner is soaking its legs in cold water after the ride.  All of these are everyday uses of water, and most of the time it is so second-nature that horse owners do not even have to think to apply water in these ways.

All those examples plus many other forms of water application actually have a very specific science behind them that has been used for thousands of years.  The application of water in all three forms (solid, liquid and vapor) to the body is called hydrotherapy.  In hydrotherapy, the environment of the body can be changed by applying water at different temperatures via different methods.  The aim of this is to normalize the amount of blood moving in a given area by effecting the circulation.

The science behind why it works can be tedious and long-winded, but in a nutshell this is why hydrotherapy works so well:  Heat is the amount of thermal energy in an object and is measured in the term calorie.  Digging back to high school we can remember that heat transfers from the object of higher temperature to the lower one, and also that water is an excellent conductor of heat.  But also remember that cold is the absence of heat.

The question becomes: How does this science lesson tie into using water treatments on horses?  By using this knowledge of how heat works and applying water we can get the results we are looking for in the horse.

Hydrotherapy includes both cold and hot water application.  Each causes its own unique reaction.  But in either case, there are three ways in which the body reacts to hydrotherapy.  The first involves local effects that occur at the area where the application of water occurs.  The second is a systemic response, meaning its effects are throughout the body.  And the third is a reflex effect that relates to the nervous system’s reaction to the treatment.

Looking back at our examples, let us see how this might play out for our horses.

Consider, for instance, the horse that has just run a tough cross country course, and the owners want to not only cool down the horse but also help keep inflammation down in the legs.  The best way to achieve this, of course, is through the use of cold water–preferably with ice in it.

Once the horse is standing in the ice water, the legs become noticeably cold and it might even be a bit uncomfortable for them.  As the temperature in their legs drop the blood circulation changes and moves into other parts of the body, leaving the legs due to the blood vessels getting smaller or constricting.  The tendons and ligaments become denser, and the muscle tone increases.  It also causes pain relief in that area.  In the whole body the blood pressure will lower, as will the heart rate.

After the horse is out of the ice water, the blood will come rushing back into the legs.  This helps raise the temperature back up to normal.  But with this rush the blood brings in fresh new oxygen, along with fresh nutrients and supplies for the cells in that area.  This also means that during the application of the ice, the toxins and old stagnant nutrients were flushed out of the cells.   And hopefully any concerns of inflammation in the structures in the legs due to any micro trauma that occurred during the exercise are decreased.

The benefits from an ice water session are numerous and affect not only the area you are treating but also, to an extent, the whole horse.  This can also be said for a heat application, which the body responds differently to than it does cold.  But with either you have a tool you can use to help your horse in a daily setting.  So the next time you rinse off your horse in this hot summer heat, remember you are using proven science to help them reach a normal body temperature through the use of hydrotherapy.

To read the full article on Horse Nation, CLICK HERE.


ECB Equine Spa Now Available At Santa Anita Race Track by Allen Gutowski

Tyler Cerin's Equine Body Works has just installed a brand new ECB Equine Spa at the Santa Anita Race Track. For more about Tyler's background and the services he offers, CLICK HERE

As you will discover from the article, Tyler puts the well-being of the horses he works with as a top priority... and in that regard he tested out the Spa for himself before putting any of his patients in! Most clients only dip in a toe, but Tyler wanted to get the full effect...

Olympic Gold Medalist Big Star back in his daily routine of Spa Treatments by Allen Gutowski

Nick Skelton and Big Star have just won Olympic Gold in Rio... Big Star is back home and back to his regular routine, including daily spa treatments. Congratulations on a job well done! 

For full article, CLICK HERE

Rio 2016 - Great Britain's Nick Skelton & Big Star - Individual Final Round B

ECB Equine Spa at Gulfstream Park by Allen Gutowski

A huge THANK YOU to High Tide Equine and Tiffany Milne for taking the time to demonstrate the Spa at Gulfstream Park and for the stable tour... we loved meeting all of the incredible horses too! 

After the horses were done with their treatments, some of us humans decided to give the Spa a try... cold does not even begin to describe the water! 


In addition to the Equine Spa, ECB has installed their very first Aqua Treadmill in the USA at the new state-of-the-art Trifecta Equine Athletic Center in southern California!

Trifecta is the only full-service, veterinarian supervised, equine sports medicine, rehabilitation & conditioning center of its kind. It is ideally located just steps away from the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center & San Luis Rey Equine Hospital, and in close proximity to Santa Anita Racetrack, Los Alamitos Racetrack, Galway Downs, and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club & Racetrack. A place where innovative treatments are proven to enhance recovery from injuries, support post-operative care, as well as strengthen the cross-training methods of the equine athlete.

For more information, visit their website at the following link: Trifecta Equine

Petaluma horseman mounts life's challenges by Allen Gutowski

Our hearts go out to our client Ron Malone as he battles this terrible disease. We have been working with Ron and his staff at Circle Oak since 2010... he truly has built one of the finest equine rehab facilities on the west coast and one of the nicest people you will meet... this is a wonderful article about Ron and his passion for horses: CLICK HERE

Winning Horse Divisidero Preps for Woodford in Spa by Allen Gutowski

Congratulations to the connections of Divisidero on a Derby Day win in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs! Buff Bradley utilizes the ECB Spas at EquiZone Hydrotherapy with many of his horses in training... including Groupie Doll who was known to frequent the Spa during her racing career. Show below is Divisidero prepping in the Spa the day before the big race. 

Gunpowder Farms' Divisidero edged clear of World Approval in the final strides to win the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) by a neck at Churchill Downs in the race prior to the Kentucky Derby. For full article about the race, CLICK HERE

Camden Equine Rehab Takes Spa Mobile in SC by Allen Gutowski

Camden Equine Rehabilitation & Conditioning Center in Camden, SC is now offering a mobile equine spa for Cold Salt Water Hydrotherapy injury rehabilitation, Post-surgical care and accelerated conditioning services. Give them a call at 636-634-5210 for more information or to set up an appointment!

Students Learn About Rehabilitation Therapies by Allen Gutowski

A group of students from Brackenhurst Equine Centre visit Flawborough Equine. They spent the morning learning about the different rehabilitation therapies available at Flawborough, and that prevention is better than cure. 

Here they are watching Emma demonstrate the ECB hydrotherapy spa with one of their regular endurance horses. 

Spa Treatment Results - Finish Line Farms by Allen Gutowski

This horse was injured in the pasture but exactly how was unknown to the owner. She was with other mares and no evidence of damage to any fences. But after a month of spa and doctoring she made remarkable progress toward recovery. Starting far left was the day she arrived, then 1 week, 2 weeks & 3 weeks of having a spa treatment every other day at Finish Line Farms.

Hassinger Equine Rehabilitation Offers ECB Spa Treatments by Allen Gutowski

Hassinger Equine Rehabilitation and Conditioning Center is a one-of-a-kind sports therapy and rehabilitation center located within a cutting-edge equine sports medicine and imaging hospital located in the "horse friendly" Sandhills of North Carolina. The performance center provides an integrative, team approach to rehabilitate injuries and achieve peak performance from each individual athlete. The center is equipped with the most modern, cutting-edge therapy and fitness equipment. Our "all-inclusive" horse care is administered by a staff of experienced industry professionals who are leaders in their respective fields. From our veterinary staff to our experienced riders, Hassinger Equine is "THE CHOICE" of industry professionals. 

CLICK HERE to visit their website.

Think the Saints cold chamber concept is only for players? Their horses use it too | by Allen Gutowski

By Katherine Terrell, | The Times-Picayune

For full article CLICK HERE

Louisiana Derby favorite Mo Tom had a trip "to the spa" on Monday morning. 

No, he didn't get his hooves painted. The 3-year-old colt, raced by New Orleans Saints owner Tom and his wife Gayle, is just one of many horses who now pass through the "Equine Spa" daily at the Fair Grounds.

It's a machine that slowly fills up with pulsating 34-degree saltwater once the horse is led in. The tub fills up to a horse's knees, and the moving water is designed to increase circulation, while the cold reduces inflammation.

In other words, it's an alternative version of cold therapy. The idea of cold treatment has been around as long as horse racing, whether trainers are wrapping a horse's legs in ice, soaking their legs in a cold bucket, or hosing them down with cold water. 

The cold saltwater spa is essentially a new way to use an old method. But cold therapy is something that reaches far beyond horses. It's a staple in every sport.

Horse racing, like the NFL, has a reputation for being reluctant or slow to embrace change. But these days, cutting edge technology seems more the norm than the exception.

Last summer, Benson purchased two cryotherapy chambers for the Saints and Pelicans. The chamber is a quick, three-minute version of a cold tub that uses -125 degree temperatures for recovery. It's an alternative method to the cold tub, which players often loathe but embrace at the same time.

The Saints took their chamber to training camp and used it often. While some players stick to the traditional cold cub, others swear by the quick and easy cryo chamber.

It's much the same way in horse racing, where the use of technology varies by trainer. Tom Amoss, who trains Mo Tom, likes the benefits of the apparatus on his horses.

Mo Tom is a regular client.

It was clear Mo Tom was used to it on Monday morning. While some horses don't like confined spaces, he stood fairly quietly, except to shake his head or stomp his feet in the water. 

Palmer Pedigo, the owner and operator of the machine, also performs the same services at Churchill Downs. Trainers essentially rent time on the machine from Pedigo, who is stationed behind the Fair Grounds barns from 5 a.m. daily during the duration of the meet.

Pedigo gets about 12-15 clients a day, from stakes horses to stable ponies.

Mo Tom is one of her more high profile clients.

And while she's usually there from sunrise to sunset, sometimes she's called in at an unusual hour. 

After a third place finish in the Risen Star last month, it was discovered that Mo Tom was bleeding from a cut on his leg. He had been practically pushed into the rail by a tiring horse and sustained the superficial cut in the process.

A cut might not seem like much, but in horse racing, any number of things could produce a setback that could knock a horse out of training. Horses pointing toward the Kentucky Derby must accumulate enough points toward entry into the 20-horse field. Miss enough training, and the horse won't make the race.

That night following the worrisome finish of the race, Palmer was called in to give Mo Tom an emergency session. 

He emerged none the worse for the wear the next morning and bounced back immediately. It was a sigh of relief for his connections. With a horse that's on the Triple Crown trail, every precaution is taken.

Benson just recently dipped back into the world of horse racing, a sport he was most heavily involved in during the 70s. Last year, the idea of getting back into the sport came up during his office at the Greenbrier. 

With Mo Tom, and Benson's other Louisiana Derby entrant Tom's Ready (trained by Dallas stewart), so far so good. Mo Tom has won two stakes races and is considered a surefire Kentucky Derby entrant if all goes well.

But with the Kentucky Derby still six weeks away, a lot of luck and a few new inventions will be used to help him get there.

Tom and Gayle Benson's 3-year-old colt Mo Tom, a leading contender for the Louisiana Derby, stands in the Equine Spa, which is used for cold therapy treatment in racehorses.   (Katherine Terrell, | The Times-Picayune)

Tom and Gayle Benson's 3-year-old colt Mo Tom, a leading contender for the Louisiana Derby, stands in the Equine Spa, which is used for cold therapy treatment in racehorses. (Katherine Terrell, | The Times-Picayune)

10 Early Warning Signs of Laminitis by Allen Gutowski

~Your horse's best chance of overcoming this hoof disease might lie in your ability to catch it early~

It’s a painful condition that veterinarians, farriers, and horse owners have been racking their brains about for decades. Laminitis—the separation or failure of laminae, which connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone within—can cause permanent structural changes in a horse’s foot, leading to repeated bouts of disease and lasting lameness. In severe cases the pedal (coffin) bone in the hoof rotates downward, potentially even puncturing the sole and prompting the decision to euthanize. But get this: Watchful handlers can actually detect signs of laminitis in its early stages and intervene before the condition becomes debilitating.


    ECB Spa installed in Utah by Allen Gutowski

    ECB is pleased to announce that a Spa is now available in Beryl, UT! We welcome J&S Equine Performance and Rehabilitation to our growing family of clients... visit their page J&S Equine  for more information or to schedule an appointment.

    COLD SALT WATER HYDROTHERAPY - Flawborough Equine Rehabilitation by Allen Gutowski

    A great reminder of the benefits of Cold Saltwater Hydrotherapy from ECB Client Emma Hawthorne of Flawborough Equine Rehabilitation... 

    Emma Hawthorne - Proprietor and Treatment Manager at Flawborough Equine Rehabilitation Centre - explains that for centuries sea water has been used in the treatment of inflammation and injury in both humans and animals and horses are no exception.  In a safe and controlled manner, the Hydrotherapy Spa greatly intensifies the natural healing effects of cold running sea water. The Equine Spa uses jets of aerated chilled saline water to accelerate healing and repair over a range of injuries to the lower limbs: from tendon injuries to the most serious wounds. Its also used as an aid to the prevention of stiffness and to improve suppleness when used as part of a training regime. 

    What the Spa can be used for:

    Tendons and ligament injuries





    Jar up

    Joint problems

    Splints and certain fractures


    Infections and wounds to the lower limbs

    Post-operative complications

    Sore shins


    Mud fever

    Arthritic pain



    Common questions answered

    Q. Why is a Spa treatment more effective than cold hosing?  Spas work on the lower legs accelerating healing and repair due to a number of factors:

    Q. Temperature?  The water is kept at around 2 degrees which takes out heat and inflammation and increases the circulation of the affected area. Research shows that the Spa makes legs colder than any other treatment and is a very relaxing experience for an injured horse.

    Q. Salt Concentration?  The salts also act like a poultice, drawing out any infection and creating an additional cooling effect. The concentration is roughly double that found in the sea.

    Q. Pressure? The depth of water applies pressure to the injured area and gives support.

    Q. Aeration?  Aeration acts as massage encouraging circulation and healing. 

    Q. When would be the optimum time for hydrotherapy treatment?  Often it is a case of closing the door after the horse has bolted. Therefore the earlier we can start treating a case the better - this is beneficial to both horse and owner as it reduces the time-out.

     Q. Is the treatment costly?  Hydrotherapy Spa treatment is more affordable than you may think and is recognised by many insurance companies as an alternative treatment - when referred by a veterinary practitioner or registered farrier. We have a wide range of cost effective treatments but it is important to consider carefully each case in turn and put together a suitable rehabilitation programme.

    Veterinary surgeon, Matthew Barlow of Home Farm Equine, Nottinghamshire comments:The Spa is particularly useful in reducing acute inflammation in the early stages of tendon injury and greatly reduces healing time. It gets horses back in action faster and in many cases the horse does not require further treatment.

    At Flawborough, we use cold therapy as one of many tools of rehabilitation. Others include: heat, exercise, massage, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, magnetic fields and there are many more. Please contact us for further information or to arrange a visit:

    Flawborough Equine Rehabilitation Centre, Hall Farm, Flawborough, Nottinghamshire NG13 9PA  Telephone 01949 850332