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Swimming Pool for Horses
A therapeutic swimming pool for horses may sound like a wild idea, but more horse owners every day are starting to believe in it.
One of the first such pools is owned by Sue Dellone, of Poland, Ohio, where horsemen bring their animals to help speed recovery from injuries or surgery. The all-concrete pool is 60 ft. long, 15 ft. wide, and 13 ft. deep in the middle. It has a long sloping entry ramp and a steeper exit ramp. The center of the pool is widened so that a horse can be turned around, if necessary, and walked out the entrance ramp. A wood liner and rubber mats protect the horse from injury.
"A horse may be afraid of water at first, and some horses don't know how to swim," says Dellone. "The angle of the entry chute is important so the horse will enter the deep water gradually. We tried three or four times before we found the right slope.
"We use six men on a horse when breaking them into swimming. Once they're used to it and we know they can swim, two or three people can handle a horse in the pool," she says.
"Free swimming is not much help to a horse, so we do Štail-tie' swimming where a ring is attached to his tail and he's suspended in the water. This forces him to tread water and exercise his legs vigorously. We figure four minutes of this kind of exercise is equivalent to a one-mile race," she says.
Besides therapy for injuries or after surgery, the pool is a good place to diagnose other health problems. The vigorous exercise in the water can locate muscle weakness or heart and lung problems.
Water for the pool is collected from the barn roof and filtered through a rock bed. A fungicide is added to the water to keep algae and molds out, so the water doesn't need to be changed. The pool isn't heated or drained for cold weather; in fact, horses can use it in winter after the ice is broken on the surface.
"The idea of the pool is to force the horse into vigorous exercise," says Dellone, "but not everyone agrees with using this kind of therapy. Some horsemen have argued that the tailtie swim can damage the spine, but we've never seen any evidence of this."
The pool cost $15,000, and Dellone figures she'll soon recover the cost. She gets race horse business in which an ailing horse gets therapy in the pool every other day.
Dellone thinks the pool could be used for therapy on other valuable animals, such as cows and sheep, "if the animal can swim. It might also serve as a dipping vat for control of lice or skin diseases."
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mortgaged Acres., 9756 S. Ave., Poland, Ohio 44514 (ph 216 549-3437).

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1983 - Volume #7, Issue #5