Water treadmill exercise has become popular in recent years for the training and rehabilitation of equine athletes. In 2019, an equine hydrotherapy working group was formed to establish what was commonly considered to be best practice in the use of the modality. This article describes the process by which general guidelines for the application of water treadmill exercise in training and rehabilitation programmes were produced by the working group. The guidelines describe the consensus reached to date on (1) the potential benefits of water treadmill exercise, (2) general good practice in water treadmill exercise, (3) introduction of horses to the exercise, (4) factors influencing selection of belt speed, water depth and duration of exercise, and (5) monitoring movement on the water treadmill. The long-term goal is to reach a consensus on the optimal use of the modality within a training or rehabilitation programme. Collaboration between clinicians, researchers and experienced users is needed to develop research programmes and further guidelines regarding the most appropriate application of the modality for specific veterinary conditions.
- water treadmill