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Equarium® benefits

The must-have equine solarium for today's horse owners. Discover the wide range of benefits and uses - from drying and clipping - to foaling and therapy.

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Why Equarium® is the best horse solarium . . .

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How shortwave infrared benefits horses . . .


Who uses Equine SunSwitch solariums . . .


After its success as horse solarium supplier to the Olympic Games, Equine SunSwitch secured the equally prestigious Asian Games contract.

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Solarium FAQs

Are patio heaters safe to use on my horse? Is a canopy solarium waterproof? See this and other useful info in our Solarium FAQs.

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Equine SunSwitch tops off fast-track yard

Babington solariumsLooking round Babington Dressage yard in its peaceful setting near Banbury, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s taken years of hard work and planning to achieve such a comprehensive state-of-the-art facility. But you’d be wrong. It was all completed in four months flat. So how on earth was it done? Owner, George Martin explains.

“Work began in May last year,” he said, “and by August we were up and running. We knew what we wanted, and just worked solidly from six in the morning until it was too dark to see what we were doing.”

Babington DressageThe results are astonishing. With an American barn housing 12 loose boxes, Babington has everything including outdoor and indoor arenas, a horse walker, a lunge pen and hot water washdown bays. But of course these days no yard is complete without solarium facilities.

George chose Equine SunSwitch solariums with their variable heat output and timer function, because they are so practical and versatile. Although horses can grow to accept a canopy lowered over their back, they don’t really fully relax, and indeed some find it very stressful. But the Equine SunSwitch range is designed to be wall mounted or suspended away from the horse, permitting freedom and easy access for the handler.

George Martin in actionOne of the key functions is rapidly drying horses. Equine SunSwitch solariums have an electrical rating that ensures they’re impervious to water and splashing, even when in use. But these solariums go well beyond just drying.

“Everything is done in our tie -up bays,” George tells us, “including grooming and tacking up. So the solariums get masses of use, whatever the weather or time of year.”

They are perfect for preparing a horse ready for exercise, as the muscles start to warm up even before the saddle goes on. They also provide warmth and relaxation when clipping and plaiting, and are great for ameliorating stressful procedures like dentistry and shoeing. George says it even works with some of his yard’s ‘more difficult’ horses!



Putting the UK in UKRAINE

Donbass Equicentre
Above: From the Donbass Equicentre website at www.equicentre.com.ua

Van GeenbergheIt all started in 2008. The Hong Kong Jockey Club placed an order for a quantity of Equine SunSwitch solariums for use at the Olympic equestrian facilities in Beijing. Orders followed from Olympic riders who liked what they saw. Amongst them was Ukranian horseman, Jean-Claude Van Geenberghe, whose sudden death in May 2009 aged just 46, shocked and upset all those who knew him.

Originally Belgian, Jean-Claude was a highly regarded international showjumper, and three-times winner of the Belgian national championship. At one time he ranked number ten in the world. Twice winner of the prestigious Aachen Grand Prix, Jean-Claude represented Belgium until he changed nationality following his marriage to a Ukrainian girl. He was riding for the Ukraine in the Beijing Olympics of 2008, where he first came across Equine SunSwitch solariums.

Jean-Claude was completely committed to his sport, and had an ambition to create the best equestrian centres he could. He was responsible for the Zilveren Spoor centre in Moorsele Belgium, and in April 2009 took delivery of a large quantity of Equine SunSwitch solariums to install in his new project, the Donbass Equestrian complex in the Ukraine.

Donbass EquicentreSituated in rural corner of Donetsk, the Donbass Equicentre is one of the biggest equine facilities in Europe, with all the infrastructure needed to host 5-star international competitions. It's the birthplace of the now popular Donbass Tour, a series of international show-jumping competitions. Jean-Claude was head coach of the Donbass showjumping team, which represents the Ukraine at national and international competitions across the world. It was his goal to take his country to triumph at the 2012 London Olympics.

Svitlana Vinnechenko and Oleg Krasyuk

Svitlana VinnechenkoOleg Krasyuk

Above left: Svitlana Vinnechenko. Above right: Oleg Krasyuk.

Another high-profile Ukrainian to favour Equine SunSwitch is career horse owner and horse-woman, Svitlana Vinnechenko. Svitlana sponsors Ukranian rider, Oleg Krasyuk, and is based at the glorious Magna Racino centre near Vienna, Austria. Since first partnering Oleg in 2005, Svitlana has increased the number of horses she owns, and with it the amount of time she spends at Magna Racino. With talented stallions, Caligula and Captain Nemo, and the solid reliable Shalimar, thirty five year old Oleg moved up an impressive 214 places in the Rolex Top 250 Rankings, to take the Rolex "One to Watch" spot for October 2011. He also rode Caligula to the number one spot in the Donbass Tourin Donetsk last year.

In a continued quest for excellence, the Donbass Centre has just taken delivery of another quantity of Equine SunSwitch solariums, to further expand their already comprehensive facilities in the Ukraine.



Parnashe cuts a dash at Bedgebury Park Dressage competition

Hannah Knight on ParnasheBedgebury Park hosted the Horse World Live Southern Region Inter County Team competition on Sunday 10 June. 2012 It was the first in a season of fortnightly dressage competitions to be held at this fabulous venue in Kent. Recently bought by Canadian Gabriella Atkinson, Bedgebury Park is fast earning a reputation as a centre of excellence, providing state-of-the-art facilities for horse owners and riders alike. Included are a covered school and warm-up arena, which was beginning to look an absolute must, given the terrible weather recently.

Thankfully the rain held off for most of the day, which was attended by around 92 riders riding a total of 145 tests. The atmosphere was organised but relaxed and friendly, as we have come to expect from British Dressage events.

Parnashe in actionEquine SunSwitch sponsored three of the classes, one of which was the Novice. BDA Southern Region Chairman, Mary-Anne Horn was in the judging seat for this class, and gave class winner Hannah Knight a highly respectable score of 71.15% for her test on her beautiful coloured Trakehner x Dutch Warmblood, Knight's Parnashe.

Hannah is 17 and lives near Nurstead Court Livery yard in Meopham, Kent, where 11 year old Parnashe is stabled. Here the pair receives tuition from Kent based Australian eventer, Mark Boxall. Hannah says that she owes everything to Mark. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him," she said. It is evident, however, that an enormous amount of work and commitment from Hannah herself, together with support and dedication from mum, Joanne, is also key to excellingDressage rosettes in her chosen discipline. Congratulations from all at Equine SunSwitch, and keep up the good work!



Equine Solarium Walker - patent pending

Equine SunSwitch is seeking to patent an innovative equine solarium walker.

SunSwitch Limited has filed a UK and European patent application (GB1009599.0) for an equine solarium walker. This innovative development applies heat of the optimum type to penetrate horses’ muscles - namely short wavelength infrared - but crucially delivers it whilst the horse is undergoing walking exercise round a circuit. In this way it combines two important, but usually separate elements of the warm-up process. Furthermore, combining the two warm-up techniques provides a faster warm-up than can be achieved with either - an important consideration where commercially owned horses are concerned.

Heat application during warm-up and cool-down can play a key role in alleviating the symptoms of injury and stress, and prevent it happening in the first place. Specialist equine literature (Lacelles et al 2006) suggests that raising muscle tissue temperature by just 1-2°C is sufficient to be relaxing. Heating by 2.78°C is sufficient to stimulate an increase in metabolic activity, while 3-4°C will increase collagen extensibility. The aim of a warm-up prior to exercising a horse is to increase core temperatures by 0.56°C – 1.12°C (1 - 2°F) and muscle temperature by approximately 2.8°C (5°F).

The Equine Solarium Walker enables this to be achieved in the most time-efficient way, by combining exposure to short wavelength infrared with walking exercise. Many competition yards have washdown bays and hydrotherapy pools.Some have invested in a recent innovation developed by Equine Health Centre Limited, the Seawalker ™, which uses very cold water that has been purified and salinated. In all cases horses need to be dried and returned to their boxes after bathing. This can be time-consuming and difficult to manage, especially in yards where the ratio of horses to handler is high. The drying process needs be achieved as rapidly as possible, not only for expediency, but also for the comfort and health of the horse.

Rapid drying becomes an even greater logistical imperative in the winter months, when ambient temperatures are lower and limited daylight hours condense the time available. The Equine Solarium Walker speeds up the drying process, to the benefit of both horse and handler.

Combining exposure to short wavelength infrared with walking exercise may also be used to aid the acclimatization of competition and breeding stock that have to travel to and from hotter countries.

For further information, please contact Equine SunSwitch on 01424 883344.

Sheikh Al-Thani is already familiar with Equine SunSwitch. Ascot Solariums are in daily use at his european yard for drying and therapy, emphasising how this affordable British product has become the solarium of choice for elite equestrians worldwide.



Michael Whitaker chooses Equine SunSwitch

Michael WhitakerFour times Olympic Medalist, Michael Whitaker, has recently installed two Equine SunSwitch solariums in his Nottingham yard. Manager, Melissa Braybrooke described the product as, “Brilliant!” when she talked to Equine SunSwitch Director, Lisa Auckland.

Lisa: So Melissa, how are you getting on with Equine SunSwitch?

Melissa: Brilliant! It’s absolutely great. We’ve just installed four heaters and two waterproof timer controllers in one of our boxes and they’re just right. Not over the top. And really simple to use.

Lisa: What sort of things are you using it for?

Melissa: Everything! It dries horses really quickly, and helps them relax. It’s great for keeping horses warm and settled when you’re clipping. And because you can do it with their rugs off, it’s quick and you can see what you are doing better.

Lisa: Have you tried using it for warming horses before exercise?

Melissa: Oh yes, its great for that. It saves so much time and must help prevent muscle strains. We just put it on when we getting a horse ready.

Lisa: How do the horses take to it?

Melissa: They love it! When we first took delivery of it, we couldn’t wait to get going so were tried it out with just two of the heaters on the wall. The horse kept positioning himself where he could feel the heat, and then turning round to toast the other side.

Lisa: How do you think Equine SunSwitch compares with a canopy style solarium?

Melissa: Oh it’s much better. Michael wouldn’t consider using a canopy solarium. It has to work in a way that allows you and the horse to move around freely, and where big horses like our 17hh Rooney can be treated without any danger of coming into contact with it.

Lisa: Some people say horses find canopy solariums scary, and that lowering them down over horses’ backs seems a bit risky.

Melissa: Yes I can believe that. Rooney, who’s only five, is really naughty, and I wouldn’t want to put him under a canopy! But he loves Equine SunSwitch and behaves himself.

Lisa: Any problems at all?

Melissa: No, none. In fact we want to order another. When can you get it to me?...

Michael Whitaker
Born 1960, one of four boys - John, Ian and Steven. Raised on their parents’ farm in Yorkshire, where they were all taught to ride by their mother. Aged just 20, Michael became the youngest ever winner of the Hickstead Derby, a record which remains unbeaten. He went on to take three more Derby wins. In 1999 as the highest placed British rider, he came 5th in the World Cup Final. Then in 2001 he did even better, reaching 3rd ranking. He came second to his nephew Robert in 2008 when Whitaker men took first, second and third at the British Open Show Jumping Championships. Michael has had no less than five Olympic selections, and four King George V cup wins to his name, not to mention over a hundred Nations Cup appearances.



Equine SunSwitch - a winner with the Hong Kong Jockey Club

Andreas Schutz riding Good Ba Ba (
Trained by Andreas Schutz, Good Ba Ba (No.3) winning the 2008 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup in the final leg of the Champion Sprint Series at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club, one of the largest and most respected racing organisations in the world, has selected Equine SunSwitch to provide its solarium facilities.

Hong Kong Jockey Club - aerial viewFounded in 1884, the club changed from an amateur to a professional organisation in 1971. It is widely regarded today as a world leader in the provision of horse racing, sporting and entertainment, as well as being Hong Kong’s premier charity and community benefactor.

In February 2008 The Hong Kong Jockey Club took delivery of ten Equine SunSwitch Deluxe Solarium kits. With the Olympic games not far away, William Cornell, team manager of the British Equestrian Team, has recently visited the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Olympic Equestrian facilities at Sha Tin and Beas River, and has declared the horse care facilities as ‘top class’.

Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Carrie Yau, has also praised the equestrian venues and sporting facilities built by the Club, saying they were of the highest international standard. The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s CEO, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, says, “Their positive comments have again given a huge boost to us, and I simply can’t wait to see the world’s top equestrian athletes demonstrating their great techniques to the local public this August.”



Research highlights benefits of infrared treatment

Infrared treatmentIn 2007 a research project was conducted to explore the potential beneficial effects on horses treated with quartz halogen infrared. The project was carried out by Victoria Townsend as part of an MSc in McTimony Animal Manipulation, and was supported by Equine SunSwitch who supplied the required equipment.

Horse owners, riders and trainers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of treating their equine athletes with the same careful consideration given to human athletes. The ideal equine athlete is light and balanced, economic with energy, and posessing a loose action that is free from stiffness or discomfort, with good coordination and with no compensations in his movement.

Attention paid to correct warm up and cool down procedures can help to optimise performance and reduce the risk of injury. Heat application can play a key role in both preventing injury and alleviating any symptoms of injury.

The aim of this study was to evaluate some of the claimed beneficial effects of infrared radiation on ten Thoroughbred and ten Sports Horses. Specifically, it looked at the effects of 20 minutes exposure to infrared on (i) the extent to which it calms and relaxes the horse, and (ii) the ability of infra red heat to increase stride length as an indicator of back muscle relaxation.

Specialist equine literature suggests that raising muscle tissue temperature by just 1-2°C is sufficient to be relaxing. Heating by 2.78°C is sufficient to stimulate an increase in metabolic activity, while 3-4°C will increase collagen extensibility. The aim of a warm up prior to exercising a horse is to increase core temperatures by 0.56°C – 1.12°C (1 - 2°F) and muscle temperature by approx 2.8°C (5°F)

For the study an Equine SunSwitch heater was installed approximately 50-60cm away from the horses. Heat output was set to approximately 60% on the Equine SunSwitch controller. Horses were acclimatised to the loose box before treatment commenced and were constantly monitored to ensure they were comfortable. The light emitted by the heater enabled the researcher to see exactly where the infrared was directed.

Horses in the study were exposed to 20 minutes under a single Equine SunSwitch set at 60% output, followed by temperature readings. The research concluded that infrared heat treatment coupled with a brief active warm up and stretch, would provide an efficient and effective preparation for exercise. It also concluded that the use of more than one Equine SunSwitch (as recommended) would widen the treatment area of the horse, thus increasing effectiveness.

Stride length
Horses utilise a large number of muscles when walking.The single Equine SunSwitch heater used in the MSc research was set to warm only the main muscles in the hindquarters. Muscles treated included the gluteals and biceps femoris, which are the main muscles involved in protraction of the hind limbs. The purpose of warming them would be to provide increased soft tissue extensibility and to ensure blood flow to the muscles thus delivering the nutrients necessary for muscle contraction.

Tests were carried out after treatment to measure stride length. The results are interesting. All of the Sports horses tested showed an increase in stride length after 20 minutes of infrared treatment, in one case by as much as 21cm.

The horses used in the study were exercised and turned out as usual during the four-day trial. The researcher observed that the regular application of infrared heat eased muscle soreness generally, restoring normal elasticity sooner than would otherwise be expected.

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