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One step ahead in the Third World

Swanson Racing is a Dynamic Team in Zimbabwe, who pride themselves in always putting Equine Welfare at the heart of their training regimes. In a country plagued by economic turmoil, racing has an uncertain future, yet one thing remains steadfast, Kirk and Debbie Swanson make sure the needs of their horses and their Team are always met first. Their horses receive regular Physiotherapy treatment ensuring that the likelihood of injury is drastically reduced. Kirk, a Royal Agricultural University Graduate in Equine and Agricultural Business Management, has both the Academic and Practical training to back his success.

Unlike the UK and other Great Racing Nations, Zimbabwe Racing does not have the International following and media attention required to keep it alive and kicking, they do not have the constant reviewing and changing of rules as and when the racing community discovers new techniques and modalities to improve performance. As such, where tools such as Flair Strips and Kinesiology tape are banned abroad (in horseracing), they are allowed in Zimbabwe.

We know that the Equine Athlete is an exceptional one. Perhaps in part limited by its’ respiratory system. Reaching speeds in excess of 40mph, and maximal heart rate around 240bpm means the demand for performance of Thoroughbred’s respiratory system is enormous.

A racehorse will breathe about 1800L of air over a 5 furlong race (6 Bathtubs full), the force of which “sucks” in the soft tissue of the nasal passages restricting airflow by reducing the diameter of the airway. This has negative effects on performance but can also be damaging to the lungs due to the massive changes in pressure, causing blood vessels to rupture.

Above – Baumgartner battles it out to the line.

Working in a Team that chases those marginal gains means we cannot go without Flair Strips. They are one of our “go to” tools. They assist with breathing mechanics, increase comfort, and limit the deleterious effects of EIPH.

Team Swanson say “Flair Strips have made a significant difference to our horses with respiratory niggles or EIPH. Winning races comes down to marginal gains and we are always confident of a smart positive performance with Flair Strips. Ideally we would like to perform strong pieces of work with certain candidates in flair strips but financial restraints prevent us from budgeting this. We find horses are more likely to have EIPH in daily work where they do not wear a strip than on race day where they do.”

Above: Solinsky – Zimbabwe Champion 3yo (2017)

Federico Tesio said that “a Horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart and wins with his character”. It is our belief that Flair strips support the lungs, which enable the heart and that produces the character that will not give up”

Above: Heir Line recently won the Republic Cup, Zimbabwe’s richest horse race.

Their recent success winning Zimbabwe’s richest horse race, along with their leading statistics in the country leave little to imagination. This team systematically chases the aggregation of marginal gains on a shoestring in Zimbabwe with Equine welfare at the heart of their trade.

Grateful thanks to Andrew Philip Equine Photography for his Photographic Wizardry :)

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Equestrian Performance


   Kylie Bonthrone - Equine Physio and Rider Sports Therapist

          BSc (Hons) Equine Science, PGDip VPhys, SMT, NKTP, MIAAT           

    Craig Bonthrone - Strength and Conditioning Coach

       MSc Coaching Science, NSCA accredited,  BSc (Hons) S and C,  FdSc. 

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