All over the world and more and more in South Africa, equestrians are seeing the benefits of solarium therapy for their horses. Many professional yards have an in-house solarium, so that performance horses can have access to solarium treatment on a regular basis. However, the benefits of the solarium are reaped not only by sport horses, but also by horses who are in the recovery phase after an injury.
What is solarium therapy?
Some horse solariums use a combination of ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light, and some solariums eliminate harmful UV rays altogether by only using short-wave infrared heat. The heat lamps are fixed into a rounded panel, suspended from the ceiling. The rounded panel allows for a greater targeted surface area of the horse.
The heat generates a form of energy that increases metabolic activity in the cells, thereby improving blood circulation and causing ‘capillary dilation’ to occur. This process increases blood flow through the body and brings oxygen and nutrients to the cells. The increased circulation improves muscle condition and elasticity, which you may notice creates better suppleness and performance in your horse, as well as helping to reduce the chance of injury and speeding up the recovery process in injured horses. Solarium therapy is effective in relieving sore or stiff muscles, which is especially common in competition horses and horses in hard work.
Infrared light has also proven to help with stimulating the immune system and providing vitamin D – an essential vitamin in the absorption of calcium and phosphate minerals. This absorption helps to build and maintain healthy, strong bones.
Solarium therapy is suitable for all horses – from competition horses to light workers to retired oldies. You’ll feel and see the most difference in sport horses, injured or recovering horses, as well as horses who are prone to stiffness or tying up. Old or retired horses who are no longer in hard work, or any work at all, can certainly benefit, even though they aren’t being ridden. Solarium therapy can help make them more comfortable in their golden years by promoting healthy blood circulation and relieving sore or stiff muscles and joints.
Other benefits include:
How long and how often?
Performance horses will benefit most from receiving a solarium session right before or after a riding session. Most riders opt to stand their horses in the solarium beforehand, as it aids in warming the back for exercise and getting the muscles relaxed and elastic.
Sessions are usually 20 minutes. Sport horses typically go in the solarium two to five times a week, whereas a retired or recovering horse can receive therapy daily if need be.