Just as it does with humans, swimming
provides a good workout, requiring additional cardiovascular exertion
due to the hydrodynamic pressure on the rib cage and lungs. Since
the lungs must work harder to deliver enough oxygen to the muscles,
this fosters strengthening of the heart and lungs--without the
concussive pounding on limbs and joints that would be experienced
during land-based training or rehabilitation.
And while horses may seem unlikely
candidates for a refreshing dip, swimming programs are respected
and effective methods of rehabilitation and conditioning for equine
athletes. A non-concussive form of therapy, swimming is especially
good for rehabilitation of horses with limb diseases such as arthritis,
acute or chronic laminitis, splints, curbs and bruises. Hydrotherapy
also serves as a valuable final phase in post-operative rehabilitation.