(CNN)Training horses can be a tough, exhausting business, so what better than a ride to the seaside?
Racehorse trainer Gai Waterhouse, known as the first lady of Australian racing, is a firm believer in time spent at the beach. But it’s not for her benefit, it’s for the well-being of her horses, she tells CNN.
Firstly, training on the sand is low impact on a horse’s tendons and joints. The sand is soft underfoot and has more “give” than turf, reducing impact and the likelihood of jarring.
“It’s particularly good for horses that might have been injured,” Waterhouse explains.
Not all animals love the water, but when it comes to horses, cantering in the sea is effective exercise.
Waterhouse compares it to professional athletes running in a hydrotherapy pool, with joints and muscles supported by the water.
It’s good strength and conditioning work, with minimal stress on the horse both physically and mentally.
It’s also healthy for horses and their riders to have some down time away from the stables.
“Playing in the sea and sand lets the horses relax,” says Waterhouse. “It gives them something else to do other than running hard in circles.”
A horse’s performance can drop if it gets bored of training, so a trip to the beach rejuvenates both horse and rider.
As Waterhouse puts it, “It’s playtime as well as good exercise.”