Exclusive: watch Valegro work out on a water treadmill

Dressage videos 28 Videos Amy Woodhead: how to ride a canter half pass to wow the judges 02:58 Amy Woodhead: how working for Carl Hester has set her up for success 06:14 Watch Carl Hester at home: 'I can't wait to get out of bed and train horses towards grand prix' 02:31 Tales from Hartpury: the nine-year-old rising star with an Olympic dream 02:35 Winter Dressage Championships day four: one-two for Dujardin 03:43 Sophie Wells' rising star impresses on prix st georges gala night 01:22 Winter Dressage Championships day three: former runaway horse shows what she's made of for championship first-timer 03:30 Tales from Hartpury: the event horse making waves in her new career 01:56 Tales from Hartpury: Five horses and 13 tests — but did this rider remember where to go? 01:04 Tales from Hartpury: the horse with a rare skin condition that travelled in first gear for six miles 02:02 Winter Dressage Championships day two: Dujardin wants her rising star's foal for Easter 03:35 Tales from Hartpury: meet the family pony rubbing shoulders with dressage's big guns 01:08 Winter Dressage Championships day one: a shock victory and a horse defies the odds to do a double 04:43 H&H dressage editor’s Area Festival video diary: Disbelieving the results of my small and fairly average horse 05:03 Watch Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro's European freestyle dressage test 07:13 Watch Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro wow the crowds at Hartpury 09:37 What is 'breath energy' and could it help your riding? 03:48 Watch Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro's freestyle on a catch ride 06:38 Ruth Edge: How to ride the perfect 10m circle 01:18 Exclusive: watch Valegro work out on a water treadmill 02:46 'Squat to exhaustion': meet Alice Oppenheimer 02:43 Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin: A bit of banter 03:15 Maria Eilberg: How to improve your horse's walk 02:03 Maria Eilberg: how to improve your horse’s trot 01:21 Michael Eilberg: How to ride a square halt 03:35 Michael Eilberg: introducing collection in canter 05:01 Michael Eilberg: teaching your horse to rein back 05:03 Watch Farouche's winning test at the BD nationals 05:44

  • Dressage superstar Valegro, aka Blueberry, visits the Equine Therapy Centre at Hartpury each week with his groom Alan Davies for a session in their Aqua Fit water treadmill.

    We caught up with our blogger Fizz Marshall, manager of the Hartpury centre, to find out more about this therapy and how Blueberry’s use of the equipment differs from the average horse.

    Why Valegro uses the water treadmill

    Fizz explains: “Blueberry comes to us as part of his normal work regime about once a week regularly throughout the year, increasing to twice a week in the build-up to championships.

    “Carl and Charlotte like the water treadmill because it makes him move through the range of movement they are looking for in his work, but in a really nice, relaxed and non-intensive way. So he has this on the days when he’s having an easier day.

    Read more about Valegro

    “We use the water around hock height for Blueberry, so we put him through a big range of movement in both his front and hind legs. The water treadmill encourages the horse to ‘sit’ behind — which is what you’re looking for in a dressage horse. It makes them drive with the hind legs and helps them to take the weight off the front legs.

    “The unique thing about Blueberry on the Aqua Fit compared to other horses is his ability to flex the part of his spine that sits underneath the saddle upwards. Most horses in the water drop this area down. This allows him to generate a different type of movement in that part of his back to any other horse we know.

    “Blueberry, or any horse, works much slower in the Aqua Fit than when walking over land. This allows him the time to go through that bigger range of movement we’re asking for. We adjust the speed of the treadmill to the individual horse to cater for that.

    “With a longer stride duration and a lower stride frequency, the horse takes bigger, longer steps and the water encourages the hind legs to step underneath giving more power. This helps to build up the important muscles in the hind quarters and over the lumber area of the back.”

    Benefits of a water treadmill for horses

    The benefits of working horses in a water treadmill include:

    • improving the horse’s range of movement
    • building muscle with minimum stress on the front legs/hooves
    • low intensity so suitable for both fit horses and those returning to work after injury

    Video by Lucy Merrell

    You may like...