Dr Kathryn Nankervis, who oversees all treatment at Hartpury Equine Therapy Centre, shares the inside scoop on her celebrity client’s visits
Hartpury’s Therapy Centre has been playing host to a very famous client – dressage superstar, Valegro. His groom, Alan Davies, brings him to use the water treadmill at the Centre every week in the lead up to a competition, including the Rio Olympics.
On his first visit, Valegro took to the treadmill like a natural, only taking a couple of minutes to get into his stride. He now makes regular visits, working for about 20 minutes each time. We vary the depth of the water from around the middle of his cannon bone to slightly above his hock, which makes him work as if he was doing a polework session, increasing the flexion of all his hindlimb joints in a nice, slow rhythm. It also encourages his lumbar spine (the area behind the saddle) to lift and round. If you were coming around the corner on a day Valegro’s in and can only hear a horse on the treadmill, but not see the horse, you can always tell it’s him because there’s a ‘mechanical’ quality to his rhythm – he never deviates, never takes a short step and never loses his balance in the water.
When he retires, he’ll continue to come and use the water treadmill as it provides a quality workout with reduced concussion, which is useful for almost any teenage competition horse. He will also continue to use our weighbridge, which helps Alan to monitor his body condition (Valegro’s – not Alan’s!).