ONE of the world’s leading equestrian riders is backing a new business offering fitness and rehabilitation services for horses.

Nicola Wilson, from Northallerton, is one of the clients using the unique facilities at the Sports Horse Fitness and Rehabilitation Centre launched earlier this year by Wensleydale racehorse trainer Ann Duffield.

Ann, the first woman president of the National Trainers Federation, extended her business operation earlier this year having investing £500,000 in specialist equipment and facilities at her Sun Hill stables in Constable Burton.

As well as boasting a water treadmill the equine “health spa” also includes a vibrating “Vitafloor, which increases and regenerates bone density as well as stimulating blood flow; a solarium, using infra-red lights to penetrate and relax muscles; an all-weather hill gallop; a fibre-sand round canter; and a six-horse walker.

The new business has quickly become established and three-day event specialist Nicola – whose achievements include winning team gold at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games and team silver at the 2012 Olympics – has become a high-profile advocate. Nicola has used Ann’s uphill all weather gallop for many years to help get her team of eventers fit.

Nicola, who also won team gold and individual bronze on Bulana at the European Championships last year, has been using the facilities to maintain the fitness of one of her older horses, One Two Many. “Coco” as he is known, was part of the Team GB team that won silver at the 2015 European Championships and is still competing at 16-years-old.

British Eventing team coach Christopher Bartle encourages the use of the water treadmill for eventers, including Swedish team rider Erika Sjostrom, who is based at the Yorkshire Riding centre.

“The treadmill is great for older horses like him because there’s no jarring and it’s definitely helping to keep him competing at the top level,” said Nicola. “It’s just fantastic to have access to such brilliant facilities.” He is particularly benefiting from using the region’s only equine cold salt water treadmill, which is proven to greatly improve core strength and fitness, with low impact on joints. I also use it for building core strength in younger horses”.

Ann added: "It’s not just top-class eventers that can benefit, it’s horses across the whole spectrum because the more you can build core strength, the less chance there is of them going wrong and it's incredible for getting weight off them too. It's a unique facility that really gives horses an edge.”

A new website is due to be launched soon.