Popular at horse training facilities and in the racehorse community, horse hot walkers are vital pieces of equipment for many equestrians around the world.
Mechanical horse hot walkers can walk up to 8 different horses at one time, allowing trainers and barn managers to manage their time more efficiently than ever before.
Deciding which horse hot walker you should buy may seem like a difficult task, but with the right information, you can easily decide which one is right for your situation. All you need to know is know the difference between each type of hot walker, their uses, and the extra features that you can add.
While some animal advocates may frown upon their use, equestrians that use mechanical hot walkers regularly understand their importance and many of their horse programs could not succeed without them.
The type of farm you run, the number of horses you own as well as your financial situation play major roles in determining which horse hot walker will work for your horse farm.
Not all horse hot walkers are created equal and not every one of them will be right for your situation.
Type of Horse Hot Walker
There are only a few different types of mechanical horse hot walkers on the market today. Most of them were first designed by equestrians just like you who needed a little help making sure all of their horses got the exercise and attention they deserved.
Standard horse hot walkers are motorized walkers that consist of a center motor with 4 to 8 evenly separated arms that extend out from the center.
Every arm has a tie or tethering component connected to them that allows you to attach to each horse to the walker. Each horse is separated an equal distance from the rest, keeping the horses walking in the same direction but far enough apart to prevent injury.
Standard walkers are not enclosed, but you can easily construct paneling around it if you want.
Panel Walkers (Freestyle)
Like a standard walker, panel walkers are designed with the same concept, but you can simply let your horse walk freely inside this walker because it is enclosed!
Attached to the end of each arm, a panel or other separating apparatus keeps horses separated from one another.
A full panel fence encloses the entire walker, allowing your horses to walk freely within the contraption. This gives each horse their own safely enclosed section that keeps them from running off or from getting tangled up in a lead when they act out.
Designed similarly to a panel walker but much more luxurious, a EuroXciser is an enclosed horse hot walker that allows horses to walk freely and unrestrained by a rope or lead.
High-grade dividers are attached to the arms of the machine, keeping horses evenly separated from one another. The outside wall of the walker is made with high-quality materials to keep horses safe and to keep your walker in top shape for the long haul.
This European design also comes with a roof option that can withstand snow and other extreme weather situations.
Horse owners that enjoy tackling do-it-yourself farm projects may want to create and build their own horse hot walker using old car parts and channel iron, among other things.
While it may seem the cheaper route at first glance, it will take electrical, mechanical, and welding experience to create a usable horse hot walker all by yourself.
The individual parts are usually low cost, however, any experts that you must hire to assist will cost a pretty penny. If you know what you are doing, a do-it-yourself walker can be inexpensive, but it will not come with all the bells and whistles that a professionally designed horse hot walker will come with.
This is not the best route for everyone, but it is a viable option for some do-it-yourselfers and many equestrians have a lot of success with their hand-built horse walker.
Available Hot Walker Features
Depending on the type of hot walker you purchase and the manufacturer, you may have a wide variety of options to choose from. Here are some of the most common hot walker features and how they are used.
A single-speed hot walker will only have 1 basic speed and no options to go faster or slower.
These walkers are limited in their capabilities but overall, they serve their purpose overall and are often less expensive.
Usually designed to function at medium speed, a single-speed walker works exceptionally well to loosen up horses or cool them down after a workout.
Many horse hot walkers offer a multi-speed feature that allows users to utilize different speeds according to what they are trying to accomplish. Some older horses or those horses recovering from injury may need to walk at a slower speed.
A faster speed may be needed for horses that need more exercise and enjoy a faster pace. Either way, horse owners will have different speed options to choose from and can vary workouts accordingly.
The reverse feature on most walkers is a vital component of the exercising machine. Horses can get bored by going in the same direction constantly so you can switch on the reverse function and allow the horses to walk in the opposite direction.
Regardless of whether it is a standard or panel walker, the horses can easily turn when the operator applies the reverse function.
Some walkers feature fold-up arms that allow horse owners to put up the arms which the walker is not in use. This prevents potential horse accidents and even possible damage to the walker itself.
Many walkers come equipped with an emergency cut-off switch. An emergency cut-off switch in an easily accessible location, such as the barn instead of the center motor, allows horse owners to stop the walker at any time from a safe distance away. The emergency cut-off features health horse owners avoid injury and stop dangerous situations quickly.
Horse hot walkers with a pull-back detection feature can detect tension from a horse and recognize when the speed needs to be decreased. This allows the horse to compose itself and will shortly resume the normal speed.
If the walker continues to recognize the tension, it will automatically shut off so that you can resolve the situation.
Some walkers offer a safety quick-release feature that allows you to pull hard on a cable installed in each arm of the walker to release your horse’s lead from the walker. The cable allows you to release the horse without getting too close to it.
Why do Equestrians Use a Horse Hot Walker
Horse farms across the world use horse hot walkers for a variety of reasons depending on the type of horse facility they run and how many horses they own or train.
Cool down horses after a workout
Racehorse and other training facilities use hot walkers because they need horse walkers to cool down their horses after training. Often, it is far more economical and takes far less time to use a mechanical walker as opposed to a human one.
Using a mechanical horse hot walker, horse owners can better regulate the cooldown and make sure their horses are taken care of properly, while also saving time and money.
Loosen up horses before a workout
Horse training facilities use mechanical hot walkers to loosen up horses before a training session and cool them down afterward.
Sometimes, there are only one or two actual trainers at a facility and multiple horses that need to be worked.
In these situations, a horse hot walker will help trainers make sure that the horse is adequately loosened up beforehand to prevent injuries such as pulled muscles and torn ligaments.
Provide Exercise for Stalled Horses
Small operations may be limited on time and they need to make sure that horses have adequate exercise each day. This can be accomplished by using a horse hot walker.
This also lets the owner monitor the horses during their walk and check for any changes in their gait, something that is far more difficult in a larger pasture setting.
How to Decide Which Hot Walker Is Right for Your Farm
Horse hot walkers are designed for farms with multiple horses. If you only have one or two horses, a horse hot walker may not be worth the financial investment.
However, if you need to work or exercise multiple horses a day, then a mechanical hot walker may just be the saving grace you need. It can save you time, keep your horses in shape, and prevent injury or overheating.
Once you decide that a horse hot walker is a necessity on your farm, consider exactly how many horses you will need to walk or exercise regularly.
Most walkers come with a 4, 6, or 8-horse capacity. If you have 8 horses, that does not necessarily mean that you need an 8-horse walker, you could suffice with a 4 or 6-horse walker and just switch them out when they are done.
The price and size of the walker goes up with each horse capacity level, so keep that in mind when making your decision.
Disposition of Your Horses
Next, you should think about how calm your horses are when faced with unfamiliar machinery, lots of action, and loud noises. If your horses are calm and not prone to spooking, then a lead walker will be a viable option for your farm.
If one or more of the horses you need to walk daily are prone to spooking, then a panel walker will be safer because it allows them to walk untethered.
Panel walkers are more expensive than lead walkers, but they do offer an added measure of protection for you and your horses that cannot be bought.
Once you determine what you need, you have to decide what exactly you are willing to spend. The cost of horse hot walkers varies greatly depending on the brand and your facility’s specific needs.
If it is in the budget, opt for the walker that fits all of your facility’s needs; you do not want to have to replace a walker you installed and paid for when you find out you need something bigger or higher quality on down the road.
Dangers of Using Horse Hot Walkers
There are a few notable dangers with horse hot walkers, as there are with anything pertaining to horses in general. The trick is to be aware of these dangers so that you can prevent them from happening on your farm.
Getting Hung Up
If the leads connecting your horses to a standard walker are too long, they can cause horses to trip or step on them. This can lead to your horses getting hung up in the lead.
As you are well aware, a horse in peril can get injured very quickly without quick intervention.
If the person operating the horse hot walker gets in the path of the walker, it is possible for them to get injured if he or she does not stop the motor before helping an injured or frightened horse.
Some horses just do not like walkers at all. New horses brought to your farm may be unfamiliar with the walker setup, causing them to act unruly.
An unruly horse can buck, kick, or fight the lead causing the other horses connected to the walker to spook or act out. Injuries can occur quickly to rowdy or spooked horses that are unable to escape what is scaring them.
Safety Precautions for Horse Hot Walkers
To prevent the potential dangers of horse hot walkers, horse owners can take the following precautionary steps.
Use Breakaway Halters
Horse owners can utilize breakaway halters when connecting their horses to a hot walker.
If the horse spooks or pulls hard on the lead for any reason, the halter will detach, allowing the horse to get away from the situation. Make sure your walker is enclosed or set up in some type of enclosed pasture or paddock, if using breakaway halters.
Opt for an Emergency Cut-Off
A truly vital and highly recommended feature for horse hot walkers is an emergency cut-off and it is a key component to keeping your horses and yourself safe when using your horse hot walker.
You can have it installed in an easy-to-reach location so that you can stop the walker quickly and safely if a dangerous situation arises.
Walk Multiple Horses
Another great way to prevent accidents and keep horses calm when using a horse hot walker is to make sure you always have at least 2 horses walking in it at the same time.
Horses are notorious herd animals and they tend to stay calm if they can see another horse close by.
Use Appropriate Lead Lengths
When you use a standard horse hot walker, make sure the leads that you use to connect the horses to it are long enough that they can comfortably lower their heads but not so long that they can trip on it.
Always Monitor Horses When in Use
To keep your horses as safe as possible when walking on a horse hot walker, you should always keep an eye on them or make sure that someone is watching them.
Accidents can occur whenever horses are involved, however, supervision can prevent injuries.
What is a water walker?
A water walker is designed like a panel walker but with water-tight sides that allow horses to walk while their legs and part of their bodies are submerged in water.
This allows an injured or horse in rehabilitation to walk more easily and gain their strength.
The water helps to support part of the horse’s weight so that their full weight is not being carried on their legs. This lets the horse’s stretch their legs and get some exercise, even if they are injured.
What About Miniature Horses and Ponies?
Miniature horses and ponies can be walked on a horse hot walker, but it must be designed specifically for their stature. While you may be able find a lead long enough to reach them, mini horses and ponies should not be walked on a standard size walker because accidents can definitely happen.
A standard size walker is meant for fully-grown or adult aged horses that are average height. If you have multiple small horses or ponies, opt to have a horse hot walker made especially for them and avoid attaching them to a regular walker.
The Cost of Horse Hot Walkers
The cost of horse hot walkers varies dramatically depending on the kind of walker you choose. Standard lead hot walkers without all the bells and whistles start at around $3,500.00 and go up depending on what features you need to be added.
The price can go up to more than $20,000.00 depending on the brand and quality. Panel walkers are more expensive and start around $7,500.00 but the price can skyrocket to upwards of $40,000 if you opt for the more expensive brands.
The following table provides a breakdown of the known base prices of many popular horse hot walkers available on the market today (2020).
Keep in mind, additional customization will cost more and even if you do not see the exact option you are looking for, many of these companies can custom-build a walker to suit your facility’s needs.
Base Price of Popular Horse Hot Walker Brands
|Centaur Horse Walkers||Lead||24ft-40ft||$4,695.09||$8,995.00||N/A|
|Elite Equestrian Products||Panel||50ft||$9,950.00||N/A||N/A|
|Elite Equestrian Products||Panel||60ft||$12,095.00||$13,195.00||N/A|
|Elite Equestrian Products||Panel||72ft||$12,645.00||$13,745.00||$15,395.00|
Where to Buy a Horse Hot Walker
You can purchase a horse hot walker online through the manufacturers or you can try your local horse specialty dealer. Here are some of the websites and contact information for some of the most popular horse hot walkers on the market.
Centaur Horse Walkers
Mira Loma, California
Supreme Horse Walker, LLC
Elite Equestrian Products
Iowa Park, Texas
Freedom Horse Products
Ash Grove, Montana
Regardless of what you may have heard, mechanical horse hot walkers are safe, useful, and economical investment for many horse farms and facilities.
Whether you decide to go with a standard walker or a panel walker, the right choice for you lies in what is right for your situation. An 8-horse panel hot walker with every added feature might be the right choice for one facility, but your farm may benefit the best from a small-sized standard walker.
Choose the walker that is right for you and your horses and you will not be disappointed.