There’s something almost spiritual about the healing properties of water. Humans have used this life-giving liquid to encourage healing, in themselves and in their horses, since the dawn of time. Water cleanses (in fact, several of the world’s religions have endowed it with symbolic purifying properties). It soothes, it draws away inflammation and infection, and it does so in the most natural way. It’s simplicity itself, borne of a simple molecule composed of two hydrogen atoms bound to an oxygen atom.

Hydrotherapy in use

Equine swimming pools are a time-honored way of improving a horse’s fitness level.

Even with all of the advances in veterinary medicine we’ve seen over the past century, there’s still no substitute for simple, soothing water. For many equine injuries, hydrotherapy (applying water to encourage healing) is just what the doctor ordered–and can help the healing along better, and more cheaply, than many of our chemically advanced lotions and potions or electronic gadgets.

“Hydrotherapy,” says Sigle Magner-Skeries, a certified equine massage therapist and founder of Treetops, an equine rehabilitative center in Alliston, Ontario, “is just a fancy term for very simple stuff we apply in our barns every day. You don’t need to be an expert to use it.”

Let’s take a fresh look at what hydrotherapy can accomplish.

Running Water

So basic, yet so effective: that’s what hosing an injury is. When you aim running water from a hose at