There's a whole lot of shakin' going on in Northern California.
No, it's not an earthquake. It's the Vitafloor®, the latest in training and therapeutic equipment for horses. The innovative product was introduced to the States at Holm and Nicky Oostveen's Dutch Dreamhorses, a training and rehabilitation facility in North Monterey County, in 2010. The vibrating floor has since gained popularity with horsemen in several sporthorse disciplines along with the racing industry.
A benefit for conditioning, therapy and maintenance, the Vitafloor is a five-inch thick floor with a rubber mat on top. Vibration motors create gentle vibrations of adjustable intensity according to the need. The Vitafloor can be programmed for various times and patterns of intensity. It can also be set to tilt very slightly to ensure that the horse regularly adjusts its balance to activate muscles to get the maximum effect from the vibrations.
Their vibration technology for horses has been used in Europe for eight years and has been tested extensively by the Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences to establish its many benefits. The technology is the same as that used for humans in the Whole Body Training for astronauts to stimulate development of bone density and muscle tone.
Increased blood flow generated by the vibration is great for stimulating muscles and triggering the body's own healing processes. Regular use has been shown to increase bone density in humans by 20 percent and, in horses, 10 minutes spent a day on the Vitafloor for 10 days has been shown to significantly increase muscle power, Holm relays. Of course, more muscle power translates to more speed and take-off strength in jumping and more, and more easily-sustained, suspension and elasticity in dressage. The vibrations are also great for the digestive organs and use of the Vitafloor has been shown to help prevent and treat colics.
It is a great complement to regular exercise and an effective way to maintain fitness and get the benefits of exercise for horses on stall rest or otherwise restricted from their regular routines. Speedier recoveries from intense work-outs and faster rehab trajectories are additional upsides.
Vitafloor has been quickly embraced by many top trainers, San Diego-based dressage Olympian Steffen Peters among them. Another San Diego Grand Prix dressage rider, Laurie Falvo, is also a big believer. "Since using the Vitafloor my horses feel warmed up and loose in their muscles as soon as I get on," she explains. "At shows, not only are they looser, they are also calmer overall. Based on my own personal experience I believe Vitafloor to be the best product available."
"My 15 year old Dutch gelding is competing successfully at Grand Prix, and I attribute his health and soundness in large measure to the daily use of the Vitafloor," adds Jan Dickieson, owner of a Grand Prix dressage contender in San Diego. Even though he is 'older' and competing at the top levels of dressage, he continues not to need any orthopedic shoeing or any kind of maintenance, injections or medicine."
Easy to Own & Install
Vitafloor is easy to incorporate into a healthy stable routine. The floors can be installed in various sizes, from a strip the size of a treadmill, to fitting within a trailer, a standard cross-tie or in a large stall. A stall-size installation in which the horse can move around freely is ideal, but any configuration offers benefits.
"The product can be easily installed into an existing stall and requires no maintenance," Holm explains. "All stall and trailer units are computer controlled and completely automatic.
No supervision is needed when the horse is on
the floor." Best of all, "The horses do enjoy being on
Usage recommendations vary depending on their purpose. "Typically the floor is used once daily for 20 minutes for training healthy horses and injury prevention," Holm says. "It's once or twice daily for 30 minutes for rehabilitation purposes and several times daily for 45 minutes for colic.
"In addition, we use different vibration settings depending on the type of treatment: lower settings for bone-related issues, medium settings for soft tissue issues and general training, and higher settings for internal organs, including
"How quickly you notice a difference will depend on what the floor is used for. In general, though, the results will be very quick. If you use the floor purely as a training tool, then the rider will notice the difference immediately in most cases. For rehab horses, you usually start seeing results after several days or weeks."
Vitafloor has developed a very successful rehab and training program at their Dutch Dreamhorses facility, specializing in soft tissue injuries, bone and hoof issues and developing general health and fitness, along with maintenance and injury prevention. In addition, it has teamed up with BioRider Fitness to create training and fitness programs for riders.
For more information on rehab, training and sales through Dutch Dreamhorses, visit
For more information on Vitafloor visit