Can Racehorses Benefit From Treadmill Training?

Treadmills have been used for a long time in research because they provide accurate analysis of how horses move and adjust to different activities. It is widely accepted in the veterinary and academic communities as a valuable resource. 

However, many trainers have employed this gear during the past two decades, which has improved horses’ training process.

What Impact Does Treadmill Training Have On Its Performance When Preparing a Racehorse for the Track?

Reduced Metabolic Demands Allow For More Intense Training

Famous trainer Mike de Kock claims that even if your horse doesn’t have the same pedigree or talent as its rival, you may still beat him if you focus on improving your horse’s condition. Treadmills allow you to get that “extra” exercise and fitness you need. They’re that big of a deal.”

Treadmills need less effort from the horse than from the operator (no rider, no floor problems). 

Despite being subject to the same physiological limits, the horse can train at higher speeds than on the track due to the apparent difference in energy consumption.

Consequently, training goals may center around enhancing the horse’s stamina, speed, or overall health and wellness. Thus, the horse’s speed, fitness, and physiologic development can benefit from specialized treadmill training.

Gains in Velocity and Aerobic Capacity

Researchers Matsui, Hada, and Jones looked at treadmill exercise’s benefits in an article for Acta Veterinaria Scandinavia. Twelve thoroughbreds participated in this study, with each horse being randomly assigned to one of three training groups:

  • Group 1 used the tried and true method of heonly saddle training.
  • Group 2 supplemented their saddle work with treadmill workouts once each week for two months.
  • As a supplement to their regular saddle work, members in Group 3 used a treadmill for eight months.

After the test, the horses’ aerobic capacity and top speed both increased while their maximum heart rates decreased. In fact, horses’ physical abilities may be honed and refined by training (of any kind).

The final group, who spent eight months training under saddle and on a treadmill, developed noticeably differently. These horses showed increased aerobic capacity, oxygen carrier concentration, and metabolic rate (red cells, hemoglobins).

For example, in Group 1, the minimum running speed to reach VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption) was 764 meters per second. At the same time, in Groups 2 and 3, the corresponding rates were 809 and 804 meters per second, respectively. However, despite the last two groups having essentially identical speeds, the VO2 max of group 3 was 8.86 percent higher.

Advantages of Training Racehorses on Treadmills

Treadmill training has several practical benefits for developing racehorses in addition to its physiological advantages.

The Ability to Train Regardless of the Terrain or the Climate

The first advantage of the treadmill is that it may be used both indoors and outdoors, provided that some shelter is provided. As a result, it’s an excellent option for those who want to keep training despite inclement weather or unsuitable ground conditions.

Individualized Training

The treadmill also includes a wide range of incline and speed settings. The trainer can utilize this information to mitigate the training’s effects, design specific muscle-group exercises, and tailor the program to each horse’s needs. Trainers might encourage the development of the hind legs by, for instance, gradually increasing the treadmill’s incline so that the animal must rely more on its hind legs for support and propulsion.

Standardized tests

Standardized testing also benefits from the use of the treadmill. By standardizing the horses’ exercise conditions, the settings permit both individualized and uniform training. As a result, you’ll be able to compare the talents of your horses more accurately.

Riderless training

The capacity to teach horses without a rider on their back is another plus of the treadmill. For young horses still developing, these settings may be ideal. It’s the best scenario for getting ahead without constantly tiring your back and legs.

Are There Drawbacks of Treadmill Training For Horses?

Treadmill Training Does Not Prepare Horses for Race

Treadmill workouts were found to be beneficial, although they were used in conjunction with traditional saddle time in the prior study. Treadmill training is helpful for horses because it allows them to advance and vary their workouts, but more is needed to get a horse ready for the stresses of a race.

When it comes to actual racing, especially those huge events that are streamed on gambling sites that are listed by, when the condition of the ground, the weather, the competition, the jockey, or the driver all play a role in a horse’s success treadmill training is vastly different from the reality of the situation. Since activity on the track more closely mimics actual racing circumstances, the data and results are more relevant.

Another Mode of Movement

In addition, research has shown that treadmill use results in a unique gait. In fact, it is less natural because the treadmill prompts the horses’ motions. Compared to exercising on a track, the time spent with the limbs in touch with the ground increases, while the time spent in suspension decreases. As a result, it is vital to take a step back from the information gathered during treadmill workouts; while they may show a particular growth, they are not equivalent to those collected during training on track. Transmitting information from the treadmill requires caution.

It Costs Your Energy, Time, and Money

Lastly, not everyone can afford a treadmill because of its high price. Moreover, the track allows for the simultaneous training of numerous horses, while a treadmill limits you to only one. As a result, you’ll need to put in both time and money before you can reap the treadmill’s benefits (the price of the treadmill).


Finally, the versatility of treadmill training may be useful due to the many options available with this apparatus. But it can only be used as a supplement in the training of racehorses. Indeed, the inverse cannot be accurate if running on a track can be substituted for treadmill exercise.

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