During a rehabilitation session at LB Equine Fitness, some of its many four-legged patients are put through the paces.
There’s Scarlett, the barrel racing horse, who is working out in the aqua treadmill. Buckskin, who is also a barrel racing horse, is swimming laps in the pool. And Kool, another barrel racer, is receiving cold-water therapy in a tank. All are recovering from an injury or surgery.
“Water (therapy) is especially good for their joints and their tendons,” facility manager Katie Jones said. “It’s low impact. They can get a really good workout without the impacts they would get from the ground.”
Lauren Beaird, a champion barrel racer, is the woman behind LB Equine Fitness.
“I’ve used a facility like this as a customer,” she said. “They (equine fitness centers) have become really popular for those who have a considerable investment in their horses.”
Mrs. Jones said in the horse industry, to reach the top level of competition, a person has to have an edge.
“We believe in blood lines, but we also believe that the best nutrition and workout routine will get you the edge over everyone else,” she said.
Mrs. Beaird knew there wasn’t a water-based fitness center for horses in East Texas. So, when she and her husband, Barrett, acquired 35 acres west of Tyler, she learned all she could about horse rehabilitation and fitness training and bought the best equipment possible.
LB Equine Fitness sponsored a rodeo in June to formally mark its opening.
Mrs. Jones, who met Mrs. Beaird on the rodeo circuit, oversees much of the day-to-day operations. Her husband is a trainer at the facility.
“All my life I’ve had horses,” Mrs. Jones said. “I got my first pony when I was 6. Horses have been my life.”
She earned a degree in agriculture with an emphasis on equine fitness from Murray State University in Kentucky.
“It makes a huge difference (in giving rehabilitation) when you know horses,” Mrs. Jones said. “You have to know their body language,” she said. “You have to be patient (with them). You have to know how to read a horse. If you don’t have the hands-on horse knowledge, it could be a big disaster.”
Mrs. Jones loves helping horses get healthier and stronger.
“When a horse has been here a while, we kind of get attached,” she said. “It’s really awesome to watch the progress a horse can make from the time they get here. … It’s really exciting to see a horse back in top physical condition.”