We know that the body of an olympic swimming athlete is one you can’t not stop and admire; hours in the pool, along with proper nutrition and cross training, has made these bodies the fine specimen that they are. If we know how well swimming can help tone and build muscle, why aren’t more of us swimming our equine athletes? The problem for Canadians was that though there are a handful of amazing Aqua Tredmills, there were no equine pools in the great white North; until Endurance Equine became a reality.
Klay, a professional team roper, who has qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo four times – twice as season leader, and Chelsey having worked at a bank for over ten years, make quite the duo to run a successful business such as this. The dream began when Klay’s good horse Lobo sustained a spiral fracture in his leg in practice back in 2013. During the rehab process, Klay dove deep into research on the benefits of water therapy.
“We worked on this idea for years before everything lined up for us,” explains Chelsey “we both ended up leaving our careers, we moved onto the land we bought in Ponoka and built our facility after researching, planning, consulting with experts in so many different industries, and then researching some more.” she said.
Enjoy learning more about Endurance Equine, and how Klay and Chelsey Whyte can help you and your equine athlete out this season!
Where is Endurance Equine located?
Endurance Equine is located just north of Ponoka – about a 10 minute drive. We are about 4.5 miles off of Highway 2 on a paved road. The barn is located on our home property, an acreage we bought a few years ago and broke ground on the summer of 2017. The barn is 6300 sq feet and houses our 8 indoor stalls, pool, solarium, bathroom and client lounge area. Outside, we have 8 pens with shelter and automatic waterers, with room for more pens if and when we’d like to continue building on. Our commute is short (aka a one minute walk across the yard) which is handy for us to be so close and also helps us be flexible with our clients.
What disciplines does Endurance Equine cater to?
We have been lucky to work with a lot of disciplines already! Our clients include horses used in all of the timed events, showing, cutting, reining, ranch, pleasure, trail/hunting. We have seen a lot of success with all of them and would love to continue our work with these disciplines.
What are some common injuries, issues or reasons people would come to Endurance Equine to use the Aqua Walker?
There are two sides to our business – conditioning and rehabilitation, which we approach a bit differently.
We use the Aqua Walker to condition horses for so many reasons. Some have had time off and gotten a bit (or a lot) chubby, need a switch up or boost to their regular routine, have trouble building muscle in certain areas like their topline or booty, want to gain a bit of edge or power, or just simply if their owner isn’t able to exercise for a while but want to maintain condition. Exercising in the water builds cardiovascular stamina, helps burn body fat, increases circulation, strength, and tones muscles. The water has built-in resistance which we can adjust with the speed of the hot walker. For less resistance, we have them going at a slower speed and for a bit more, we simply increase it. For even more resistance, we have the horses change directions in intervals which has them push against the current they create in the water. It makes for a very challenging but low stress workout. Most people are surprised by the speed the horses go – it looks fairly slow but they are getting worked well. Next time you’re in a pool, see how hard it is to push through water that’s up to your chest just by walking…and then speed up! All of this said, we are able to condition horses quicker in the water than if they were being exercised on land, in a safe, stress free and efficient way. It’s also enjoyable for the horses – they like the chance to play a bit (pawing, splashing, dunking their faces in..those are our favourite moments in the pool). With conditioning, we create a program based on the horse’s current condition and the expected outcome of the owner. The things that will vary with this are the length of sessions, how fast we increase the time of their sessions, how many sessions they’ll have and the speed at which they work in the water (that adjustable resistance factor). Although we can exercise up to four horses at once, each horse exercises to their own needs. We do this by grouping horses on similar programs together and have the ability to take a horse out of the Aqua Walker when their time is up and continue exercising the rest of the group. For more customized or individual programs, we would just have the horse in the pool on their own.
When a horse is ready to get back to work after an injury, the pool is the perfect way to start. The water is just as amazing as therapy for horses as it is for people! Since it is a low impact form of exercise it makes it an easier and more efficient way to work the body. The buoyancy of the water limits stress and pressure on joints, muscles, tendons & ligaments. It helps to safely condition the body with less strain and risk of re-injury. Typically after an injury and time off, the horse is carrying around extra weight, so it really helps to take the pressure off the body while they lose some of those pounds. The cool water also helps to reduce swelling or heat so it’s doing double duty. With rehab, each case is specific to each horse but we generally work on slowly and safely easing them back in to work with shorter sessions and less resistance. We gradually build it up until they are ready to be conditioned and then we work on that. The rehab to conditioned journey takes some time, so these horses are usually with us for an extended stay. We work with clients’ vets and other health professionals to ensure a well-rounded and appropriate action plan is in place.
As for common injuries, we see a lot of tendon issues, stifle injuries, arthritis and its related pain, along with general soreness.
What makes the Aqua Walker different from an Aqua Tredmill?
The benefits are mostly addressed in the above question but to fill in the blanks…
The Aqua Walker is a hot walker exerciser built into a four-foot-deep cemented pool. The pool floor has custom rubber mats for cushion and traction. The pool is over 8 feet wide, so each horse has plenty of room for free movement and turning around. The depth of the water and the built-in resistance and buoyancy it brings, along with the space each horse has for natural movement, would be the biggest differences compared to a treadmill.
What therapies does Endurance Equine have on site? Do you plan on expanding and incorporating more in the future?
As of now, we offer the Aqua Walker and our Infrared Solarium.
About the solarium:
In addition to boosting general health and the immune system, sessions in the solarium increase circulation as well as blood and oxygen supply. Decreased muscle tension, inflammation, and pain relief are advantages of this form of light therapy. Use of the infrared solarium after a session in the Aqua Walker helps with a quicker recovery post-workout, provides a calming and relaxing cool down, and aids in drying horses off. It’s also the best for a smile or laugh when you get to watch a horse really relax, yawn, and nod off.
We could tell you about our expansion plans but we’d have to kill you…just kidding – haha! 🙂
We have ideas and room for expansion, if/when we decide to that. For now, we are busy with what we offer but are always brainstorming what would work well in addition to what we have, that we’d be equally as passionate about.
We are also happy to recommend or work with clients’ massage therapists, body workers, chiropractors, farriers etc etc and often have them out to the barn to work on horses during their stay.
What are your goals with Endurance Equine in the coming years?
Our goals are fairly simple to lay out – we want to keep helping horses and sending them home to their happy owners. There is really nothing better in our eyes than watching an owner see their horse after time with us – the excitement, sometimes shock, and happiness of how their horses look and feel is amazing. We have been a part of simply helping horses lose a few pounds to helping a horse that was off for four years due to an injury actually get to run at a rodeo again (and they won it.). We have been so lucky to have already met and worked with so many amazing horses (and owners) and absolutely love that we get to go to work everyday doing something that we are so passionate about, together.
What have been some of the learning curves, ups and downs thus far?
Insert joke about husbands and wives working together all day, everyday.. 😉 kidding there – it’s been so great combining our knowledge and skills to start this business.
The biggest learning curve was actually getting the business off the ground. Building something that no one in Canada has done before was a challenge. There really wasn’t much to go off and there were so many moving parts to manage so it just took a lot of time, research and trial and error. We had a ton of help from family and friends and are so grateful for our crew.
The ups have been the amazing response and support we’ve received, getting to meet and build relationships with so many amazing horses and their owners and everything working out so we could both take the plunge together, go for our dreams, and build something we think is pretty cool for our family.
What is the best part of owning Endurance Equine?
There’s really nothing better than not only helping horses look better but perform better – the best parts of our days are getting a call or text from a client saying their horse has never felt better, never had so much power and how pleased they are with the results.
We are proud and excited about the results that our Aqua Walker is giving. What we do is really fulfilling and we love to share our results through before & after photos.
One of the best parts of opening is the great response we’ve had – the trust and support of so many people (and it’s been a lot of people we’ve never even met) taking a chance on us and getting excited about what we do too.
What kind of packages are available for clients and their horses?
We have packages that include sessions in the Aqua Walker, Solarium, indoor or outdoor board at varying lengths. They are really just a guideline to get clients started on planning out their horse’s stay – we can adjust and customize so the package fits best. Our website has more information or we are always happy to talk it through on the phone.
How can people get ahold of you or find out more information?
Facebook: Endurance Equine
Or come for a visit – we love to have people out to check out the facility and ask questions. We do prefer to set up a time so we can give everyone our clients and the horses our undivided attention when they need it. We have treats for horses (cookies) and humans (coffee or other depending on the time of day), too.