Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center
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Fitness and Conditioning


Swimming of horses has been discontinued until further notice.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

If people think of swimming animals at all they generally associate it with rehabilitation or recovery after an injury. Actually, here at the Animal Swim Center, more horses swim as a means of conditioning or fitness than for rehabilitative purposes. Swimming provides the ideal medium to achieve, or maintain, a high level of fitness and condition without the dangers and potential injury that are inherent in track and ground workouts.

Although ground work is a necessary part of the overall conditioning of the horse, more than  60 percent of ground work can be replaced with a well structured swimming program. This means 60 percent less chance of injury, and for the horse prone to foot, tendon or ligament problems, a better chance to stay sound and be fit for the big event.

Conditioninghorse ramp
By reducing the amount of ground work required to get a horse fit you can significantly reduce the potential for injury.

Conditioning programs are structured to each individual horse based on the breed, initial physical condition, and the discipline being trained for (racing, eventing, endurance, show, pleasure etc.). Conditioning programs can require 15 to 60 days of swimming depending on the initial fitness of the horse and the frequency of swim sessions. Ground work can be incorporated into the program to round out muscle development and prepare for the return to, or application of, specific training.

A typical program will start with the horse swimming approximately 200 yds (four laps). Over time the number of laps are gradually increased so they are eventually swimming a total of 15 to 30 laps (750 to 1500 yards).

Each swimming session is broken up into multiple swims of shorter distances, similar to interval training where the heart-rate and breathing are brought down to normal levels before swimming is continued again. In this way the maximum amount of benefit is obtained from the workout. In terms of the energy and physical demands required of swimming compared to the equivalent demands of ground work, approximately 500 yds of swimming is equivalent to a 1 mile gallop, of course without the inherent dangers and risks associated with galloping.

Swimming also has the benefit of developing muscle groups not attainable with normal ground-based programs. These are primarily the hind end, diaphragm and shoulder muscles. Building the diaphragm promotes stronger and deeper breathing control for better oxygenation of the blood. Building hind end and shoulder muscles gives greater strength and power, providing greater speed, control and balance.

It takes only four or five swimming sessions to see and feel the difference.

Contact information and directions to our facilities.

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35469 Millville Road, Middleburg, VA 20117
Telephone: 540-687-6816   FAX: 540-687-8025

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