Equine VibraPlates- Shaking Up the Horse World!

Vibration platforms are making their way into show barns across the country and are producing some promising results.
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Vibration platforms are making their way into show barns across the country and are producing some promising results.

I have two clients who have now purchased an equine vibration platform. Have you seen these?

Credit: VibraPlate.com photo

Credit: VibraPlate.com photo

There are a few competing brands on the market, and they come in varying sizes. Most have dimensions to comfortably hold the average horse and are made out of either aluminum or steel.The aluminum plates can be lifted by one person rather easily (my assumption is that people want to lug them along to shows). 

They plug into a standard electrical socket and are relatively quiet when operated. They are rubber matted so that the horse doesn't lose his footing when he stands on them. These plates operate on the “curiosity kills the horse” assumption. Every horse seems inherently wired to test his fate on whatever novel item is in the barn - and so most horses will stand on the approximately 8-inch high platform with a little coaxing and encouragement. Of course, setting the plate against a wall or in a set of cross ties helps since it narrows escape trajectories!

Once you have convinced your horse that the plate will not swallow him whole, now comes time to turn it on. 1 is a low intensity vibration and 10 makes your teeth rattle. Amazingly enough- most horses seem to love it, for about 10 or 15 minutes max. Then my clients have reported that the horse gets antsy.

Basically, the idea behind the shaking is that it gets the blood flowing, wakes up contracted muscles, and improves the range of motion in the joints. Some speculate that the vibrations can clear out lymphatic fluid too. Overall, I have to say that the research listed on the sites is somewhat . . . dubious. Bottom line, as we all know, is if the plates help horses to perform better, then they may be on to something.

Shake plates can be rented or purchased. But if you purchase one, be prepared to be set back somewhere between $4,000 and $6,000 depending on the model and brand.

Currently, we are bit aware if any show circuits are prohibiting their use, which could provide a bit of a competitive edge in the face of increasingly stringent showtime pharmaceutical restrictions. So far, my clients have reported that the plates have held up well, despite being stomped on, jumped off of, folded up, moved, and in use for several hours. 

In the end, their longevity in the horse market will come down to whether or not they produce worthwhile results. From the small number of horses that I have observed on them (about 25), both horses and owners seem happy. What are your experiences with them? Can anyone offer some insight?