A luxury spa – straight from the horse’s mouth

Racehorses are being brought back to fitness at the equine equivalent of a luxury health spa in Norfolk.

Racehorses are being brought back to fitness at the equine equivalent of a luxury health spa in Norfolk.

Recuperating horses and pampered ponies can relax their limbs in the bubbling hydrotherapy spa or aqua treadmill, stride out on an all-weather gallop, sample complementary therapies or unwind under the warmth of solarium lamps at Hall Farm Equine Centre, near Norwich.

Farmer Angus Hodge has invested about £300,000 in the facilities as part of a major farm diversification scheme to create more business opportunities on his land at Saxlingham Green.

"You could call it a five-star hotel for horses - the stables and equipment we have here are amazing. We are very proud of the centre and I don't know of anything else quite like it in Norfolk that is open to the public," said Mr Hodge, who runs the business with wife Sam and four staff.

"Our 'clients' could be anything from a Shetland pony to a thoroughbred racehorse. At the moment most of the horses staying here are from Brighton and Newmarket, which we are pre-season training, but we are aiming to target far more local users."

The equine centre has been built with significant loan funding and advice from Barclays business banking, together with a Rural Development Programme government grant secured through Brown & Co.

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Originally from Hertfordshire, the Hodge family bought Hall Farm five years ago and have since contracted out its 500-acre arable operation. The couple still keep a 20-strong herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle but, as lifelong horse lovers, decided to build up the equine rehabilitation centre as their core business.

"A firm from America came over to install our aqua treadmill, which is temperature controlled and has 16 bubble jets that provide therapy on the horse's front and hind limbs. The horse is partially submerged, then exercised from a slow walk to a brisk trot on the treadmill," says Mr Hodge.

"The hydrotherapy spa, which is also a very expensive and specialised piece of equipment, is ideal for treating problems such as sore shins, tendon damage, joint inflammation, corns and foot infections."

Mark Williams, of Barclays business banking, said: "The facilities that Angus has developed at Hall Farm Equine Centre are superb and will doubtless appeal to horse-owners locally, regionally and nationally. It's been a pleasure for Barclays to help him establish a business that offers such a complete range of caring services and keeps these beautiful animals in tip-top condition."

Hall Farm Equine Centre can be contacted on 01508 499829 or angushodge@btinternet.com