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Are Horse Walkers Worth the Effort?

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 26 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Horse Walker Exercise Healthy Time

Horse walkers are used in lots of stables and yards but are they for you? They are a big expense and a big item so it pays to thoroughly think about whether they are worth the effort before investing in one.

In terms of time saving, for individual horse owners, they really don’t save that much time – but for anyone with multiple horses on their hands, be they your own or people’s who pay you to look after them, a horse walker can be a very good idea indeed.

Uses of a Horse Walker

Exercise is the main reason for owning and using a horse walker. Yards where horses are full liveried will need a horse walker. It can take forever to exercise all the horses otherwise even if you have plenty of staff. Most horse walkers can take four or six horses but it is possible to find them that cater to all different permutations. Stables can even buy a walker with a roof on it and fencing all around, like its own self-contained unit.

The best walkers on the market will also have a wide variety of speeds and settings to allow the user to tailor each programme to the needs of the horses using it at that particular time. Generally speaking, the walker will lead horses around in a circle. Some walkers also have reverse speeds should you find this necessary.

As well as exercise, horse walkers can be useful as a way of cooling down a horse after exercise. On a slower speed it won’t work the horse but it will keep him moving and his muscles from seizing up until he has cooled down.A horse walker can also be used for halter breaking if you need to do this.

Another main reason for using horse walkers is to nurse an ill horse back to health. Renewed use of a horse walker every day can help to make the horse stronger and fitter and build up his strength again little by little without fear of working him too hard. Some horse walkers will even allow for you to take pressure off the injured part of the horse, allowing that part to rest while he still works the rest of his body.

Safety of Horse Walkers

A horse walker is a huge mechanical contraption, and, as such, should be treated with care. Safety is vitally important in the use and care of a horse walker – both for the horse and the person operating it. The first thing to look for on any horse walker is that it has an emergency cut off switch. That way, if a horse becomes distressed while using a horse walker, it can be freed immediately with little danger to itself. The walker should also allow plenty of space in the compartments to allow the horse to relax and not feel like he is completely penned in.

Whether or not a horse walker is worth the effort is, at the end of the day, up to the individual horse owner. They are very useful in saving time - a horse needs to be exercised daily, there is no getting away from it. If the horse is not getting enough exercise because you do not have enough time, then a horse walker is certainly a consideration. But only ever use a horse walker as a supplement to regular exercise; it cannot replace the benefits of a long hack to a horse’s body and general well-being.

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