Here is one example of a horse I believe it did help.
Leading British racehorse trainer Tom George incorporated swimming into the training regime of Nacarat, a steeplechaser.
So many elements are involved in training a horse to win races. Fitness regime, health, diet, race targeting and placement are a few of the obvious ones but there are other elements outside the trainer’s control. The other runners, the ground conditions, and the horse who wakes up on the morning of the race thinking that it would be cool, and a bit of a laugh, to hang around at the rear of the field today.
Lady Luck withdrawing her support because she has an ante post wager on the 100/1 shot.
Nacarat was being targeted at the prestigious Racing Post Chase at Kempton Park racetrack in February 2009.
John McCririck, the uniquely eccentric pundit and journalist, told racing television viewers before the race that he had heard from the trainer that Nacarat had been swimming as part of his race preparation. His view was that with this in mind the price of 10/1 quoted by the bookmakers accurately reflected the unlikelihood Nacarat would win.
Here are the closing stages of the race.
Was Nacarat’s intensive swimming regime the reason he won the race ? No, but I am sure it played a part. On that day the trainer’s expertise, the horse and Lady Luck were all aligned.
Nacarat is one of the many hundreds of horses I have planned swimming regimes for over the past few decades. During this time trainers have reported improved performance in over 75% of cases. Swimming improves muscle aerobic capacity and strength. For cardiovascular fitness swimming is superb. Recent research shows that a horse swimming for 5 – 8 minutes can increase a horse’s heart rate from 34 to 175 beats per minute.
This is close to the 200 beats per minute experienced by a horse breezing over 4 furlongs on the track. Swimming a horse for 15 minutes is the same as galloping a horse, unencumbered by a rider, for 5 miles, from a conditioning perspective.
Swimming also offers another advantage which plays a big part in training racehorses. Horses seem to find this form of exercise mentally relaxing and calming, they relish the opportunity to move freely in a buoyant environment.
For horses that have become bored and lost interest in their regular daily work schedule, or even racing altogether, swimming seems to reignite their natural instinct to race and their regular work improves as a result.