Stuart Tinney with Pluto Mio
When champion sprinter Hay List recently turned up at Flemington Racecourse wearing what looked like a wetsuit, it caused a media meltdown with the story going global and his photo being ‘shared’ thousands of times on Facebook.
So exactly what was Hay List wearing? It was a compression and recovery suit, which will be officially launched in June this year by Australian company, Hidez, who are based in Sydney. It’s the latest in cutting-edge technology designed to help horses recover from travel and strenuous exercise by using a ‘graduated compression technology’ system which enhances circulation and supplies more oxygen to muscle groups.
The suit helps reduce vibration during travel, and aids blood flow which in turn reduces muscle soreness and speeds recovery. As the material is breathable, it also helps maintain muscle temperature.
The suit’s designer, Matthew Spice is Director of Hidez Pty Ltd.
”Trainers are finding the suits have a calming effect on horses during transport, which allows them to save their energy for when it’s needed most.”
The suit resembles a second skin, and only takes a few minutes to zip on via five high performance sports zippers.
John McNair is Hay List’s trainer and says the suit is easy to put on.
“It’s surprisingly simple…it takes me about three minutes to put on and 30 seconds to take off,” he commented.
“When I first put it on Hay List, within a few minutes he stretched out and urinated so it obviously has a calming effect as well.
“When it comes to travel…Hay List travelled from Sydney to Melbourne and back again…that’s where I find the greatest advantage as he recovers from the journey so much quicker.”
Hidez suits can also be worn before and after exercise; overnight after competition…even out in the paddock (although it’s recommended a rug be worn over the top to prevent other horses biting the suit).
It’s made from warp knit fabrics which are durable and designed to return to its original shape.
It might look strange now, but remember when competition swimmers started wearing high-tech suits designed to increase buoyancy, compress the body and reduce water drag? Those suits were so successful that almost all world swimming records were smashed after they were released. It was highly controversial at the time but soon became the norm.
Many athletes from pro golfers through to runners now routinely wear compression garments to enhance performance, which have also been endorsed by the Australian Institute of Sport. There’s even compression suits for dogs…a garment called an ‘anxiety wrap’ is said to calm dogs down during thunderstorms.
The use of compression garments in the medical world is nothing new…these days most patients wear compression stockings after surgery to increase circulation which helps prevent potentially-fatal deep vein thrombosis, and the stockings are also used during air travel.
Matthew Spice recognized that horses were athletes in their own right who would also benefit from a compression garment and sent a Hidez suit to Olympic gold medalist Stuart Tinney, who tried it out on his horses.
”I highly recommend them, they work amazingly,” Stuart commented.
So will we be seeing more of these suits being worn by racing and competition horses? There’s every chance! Hidez suits can even be customized to display your horse’s name or equestrian logo on them.
"We’re getting one made in Hay List’s racing colours of white, green and red,” said John McNair.
Photos © Aude Reubrecht