Hot walkers, also known as a horse exerciser or horse walker, are becoming more and more common. You are likely to see professionals using hot walkers at equestrian facilities, equine rehab centers, and riding centers. Called hot walkers because they help a horse cool down or warm up, these devices come in a variety of styles. .
The motor may be in the center of the device or on the ceiling in the case of a ceiling mounted hot walker which is able to keep an open pen in the center. Many hot walkers use a lead attached to the horse’s halter, but others are panel-style walkers where the horse moves in a dedicated enclosed space.
Introducing Your Horse to the Hot Walker
As with any new experience for your horse you want everything to go well. A horse that is spooked on their first encounter with a hot walker may remain spooked forever. It may be best to make sure your horse is feeling comfortable and introduce him to the walker by gently leading him to it and walking with him the first few times to keep him calm. Make sure there is always someone else near the controls when introducing your horse to the hot walker so that they can turn off the motor if the horse begins to get stressed or panicky.
Safety Tips for Using a Hot Walker
Horse owners always want to ensure the utmost safety for their equine friends. Proper use of a hot walker also means being aware of safety issues and taking steps to make sure all the horses using the hot walker are properly protected.
Some safety issues to consider are:
- Freedom of Movement. As the horse moves around in the hot walker he should be able to engage in natural movement so that there is no strain being placed on muscles and joints. For this reason a panel-style hot walker is usually preferred. The horse is not tethered and forced to keep their head in an unnatural posture.
- Serene Surroundings. A calm horse is a safer horse. If a horse feels penned in or claustrophobic they may get panicked and start to bolt around. A hot walker with ample room in each pen helps the horse feel safe. This also allows them plenty of room to maneuver when the hot walker changes direction.
- Safe Walls and Dividers. The inner and outer walls of the hot walker need to be of a height so that the horse does not consider trying to jump over them. They can be solid panels or made of strong and safe fencing material. The dividers between the pen need to be constructed of durable yet horse-friendly materials and ideally are made of some sort of mesh so that the horse can see in front and also know there are other horses nearby.
- Smooth and Accessible Operation. The ideal hot walker will start and stop with smooth and gentle movements to prevent spooking the horses inside. A quiet operation also helps keep the stress levels down as the horses are exercised. An easily accessible control panel with a human supervisor standing nearby is essential for stopping the hot walker in case of emergency.
- Appropriate Walking Surface. The surface that the horse walks on should never be something solid like concrete. Horses need a good footing material that offers both traction and cushioning. The material should be dragged regularly to keep it smooth and safe, as well as misted to keep the dust down and prevent respiratory issues.
- Supervision at All Times. A hot walker is not a babysitter for your horse. One of the benefits of a hot walker system is the ability to exercise multiple horses at once, but there must always be a human supervisor whose only job at that time is to watch the horses in the hot walker and intervene if needed.
Vitafloor Is Your Source for Hot Walkers
Vitafloor USA is one of the leading developers of superior equestrian equipment. With a focus on safety features and top-tier performance, our product line is one of a kind. Browse our hot walkers or contact one of our representatives today to learn more.