A Wetsuit for Horses Down Under?

Although fellow sprinter Black Caviar gets most of the attention, here is a pic of Hay List wearing a compression garment that aims to improve recovery after a strenuous gallop: “We have been using them on Hay List for a couple of weeks now and it makes a huge difference.” – trainer John McNair.

More here: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/superracing/hay-lists-revolutionary-compression-suit-for-recovery/story-fn67m7qu-1226296385192

I had originally wondered if this technology would make its way into the equine world while watching the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, specifically the swimming events where world records were falling daily due to a new style of swimsuit called the LZR racer:

Eventually the LZR racer was outlawed because of its pronounced effect on race times. Now a human swimming doesn’t compare precisely to a thoroughbred running for a variety of factors, chiefly water provides much more resistance than does air. Hence, the improvement in performance will never be as large in horseracing.

So far, the equine version of the suit, made by Australian company Hidez, is only able to be worn post-exercise as a recovery aid. However, newer models to be worn during training sessions (and including HR monitors), are right around the corner.

What the hell are these things?

Despite the title of this post, these garments are more complex than a garden variety wetsuit. The human version is a one piece, and takes as long as 15 minutes to put on – and requires assistance to do so. The Hidez version for horses in Australia is comprised of several ‘panels’ each with a zippered seam and seems to be fitted within just a few minutes. The level of compression is also gradated, meaning there is more pressure applied to areas further from the heart.

What do they purport to do?

These act as compression garments, keeping the muscles warm and supported during and after exercise. This action also increases circulation and provides more oxygen to muscles, thereby reducing soreness and increasing recovery. The human version also greatly reduces drag on the body due to passing through water, a chief reason behind the vast and immediate improvement on decades old record times.

What’s next?

At only $900 or so, I hope to have my Hidez suit here in the states sometime this summer, although I am waiting on a model that can be worn during gallops and breezes. Then I will undertake an admittedly unscientific ‘study’ on the suit’s effect on performance much like I did a few year’s back with the Niagara Equissage:

https://thoroedge.wordpress.com/equissage/

As a training aid, I envision galloping and breezing further, faster, and safer than without the suit – resulting in improved oxygen delivery to working muscles, enhanced post exercise recovery, and increased neuromuscular efficiency.

After losing to wonder filly Black Caviar numerous times last season, Hay List will race next in the Group 1 $500,000 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 23 before returning to Sydney. He currently sports a nifty Timeform rating of 132.

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About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on March 12, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This came from NFL Combine: The gang at Under Armour let me fondle the compression shirt Rich Eisen will wear when he runs the 40-yard dash next week. Eisen was not in it. The shirt features the new E39 sensor; several players wore an early version of the sensor last year. It measures heart rate, breathing, and other factors, but Under Armour is focusing on the acceleration data the sensor monitors this year. The E39 transmits data about the player’s initial burst straight to a laptop or smart phone, where it can be graphed, saved, compared longitudinally, and so on.
    The E39 even combines the player’s mass and the acceleration data into force data using a highly complex algorithm, and the E39 can also compute horsepower and other physics properties. Instantaneous acceleration and force data can be very useful for coaches and players during training sessions, and right now the target markets for the E39 are elite training facilities and the like. As the product is perfected, it will find its way to the mass market. The fabric feels like Under Armour, and the sensor is very light and fits snuggly. I can imagine joggers using it to measure their heartrate and other factor, If they include a Laser Tag feature, it will sell like hotcakes. It’s a cool innovation. Under Armour!

  2. Great Find! I might add the CEO of Under Armour, Kevin Plank, is a big thoroughbred owner/breeder and aims to restore Sagamore Farm to its former glory:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/22/sports/under-armour-founder-works-to-restore-sagamore-farm.html

  3. “More pressure applied to areas further from the heart”? How does this improve circulation to the working muscles, last time I checked, propulsion comes from the rear end of the horse? Perhaps this dedicates lots of Oxygen to the heart and internal organs. It also seems to cast doubt on some of the theory about lactic acid and about O deficit in muscles working under anaerobic conditions.

  4. The career of star sprinter Hay List is in the balance with the triple Group One winner battling a knee injury.

    Hay List suffered the injury after undergoing emergency surgery last Friday for colic.

    http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8448866

    very sad !

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