Mission and Philosophy of the 5W Ranch's
Whole Horse and Underwater Treadmill Program
Where We Started
In the early 1940s, Bud Hurst and his father, Virgil, had a dream for 12,000 acres nestled in the foothills beside the waters of the beautiful Neely Henry Lake:that dream was the 5W Ranch.In its heyday, the 5W Ranch consisted of a sale barn, feeder lot, and a meat packing house. In addition to polled Herefords, commercial cattle, hogs, cotton and grain sorghum, the 5W Ranch was known for the talented horses it raised of the Poco Bueno bloodline:Poco Turp, son of Poco Bueno, and Poco Moss.Mr. Hurst firmly stated that while his horses were working ranch horses, he sheepishly admitted to attending shows with those same horses in the evenings – and winning!
What We Do
Today’s 5W Ranch utilizes a unique, customized, state-of-the-art hydrotherapeutic exercise and conditioning device known as the Underwater Treadmill.The Underwater Treadmill is located in a fully-enclosed, climate-controlled environment for year-round operation.The water is appropriately heated to complement the weather.The Underwater Treadmill was built as a permanent, in-ground structure custom-designed and built to Donna Witt Preskitt’s specifications.The flooring is a steady, cushioned surface with all wall and rail corners rounded for the safety of the horses.Handlers are protected by steel railing that allows full access to horses at all times.The operational machinery is located in an underground, sound-proof storage unit.
Who We Are and Why We Do It
In the winning tradition of the late Don Witt, Donna Witt Preskitt and her staff of trained and devoted professionals continue the tradition of the legendary 5W Ranch in Ohatchee, Alabama.Combining the top bloodlines of today with the strength of the best foundation blood of the past, the 5W Ranch is practicing the mission of AQHA by "improving the breed." In addition to her breeding program, and motivated by her passion for the Quarter Horse and the intense desire for the continued improvement of the breed, Donna Witt Preskitt has taken the revolutionary step of researching, designing, and offering a proven alternative to the methods being utilized today in AQHA's performance classes by owners and trainers. This program is designed to fit, train, or heal the “whole” horse – physically, mentally and nutritionally.
The 5W Ranch facility offers a fully-enclosed, heated, 30+ stall barn with large, airy 12’ x 14’ stalls, indoor exercise/riding arena, outdoor, fully-lighted show-size arena, and lush paddocks running beside the Neely Henry Lake. Full camper hook-ups and nice local motels are available for those guests and clients wishing to stay overnight. The facility is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.Veterinarian, farrier, acupuncture and animal husbandry/nutritional services are available.
How We Do It
After careful evaluation of a horse and the goals set by the owner, the bloodlines, the medical history, past or present injuries or weakness of the horse, the program is then tailored for each horse.The same careful consideration and analysis is given to each horse’s current nutritional status, and a specific feed program is developed to aid in meeting that horse’s potential -- whether healing an injury or achieving peak performance in a chosen discipline.
Ms. Preskitt practices a strict “hands-on” approach to all the horses brought to the 5W Ranch. She is involved on a daily (and hourly) basis not only with the fitting/training/healing service provided, but she reviews each horse daily, its stall, feed program and every other aspect of its care.Special attention is given to each horse in order to understand its personality, how it learns and reacts to the environment.Her philosophy is that “no two horses are the same, nor should they be treated that way.” She is well-known for strict adherence to the personal standards of care she has established.
Horses actually work on the Underwater Treadmill - no swimming involved.Listed below are specific focus points of the hydrotherapy program that are individualized for each horse.This approach affords more accurate and controlled exercise in a much shorter period of time than conventional methods
Incorporates 20 whirlpool jets in an indoor, climate controlled environment
Employs variations of the program for the conditioning, training, strengthening and therapeutic aspects of all breeds of horses and disciplines of the equine world
Utilizes natural principles of water, such as buoyancy, decreasing conclusive and compressive forces on the joints
Encourages a full range of joint motion in reduced weight conditions, thus improving muscle tone and promoting tendon strength without imposing undue stress on tissues and improving cardiovascular stamina
Utilizes warm water to help increase blood circulation and increase flexibility for muscles and joints
Applies progressive water resistance to help build muscle mass, strengthen limbs, and provide a cardiovascular workout
Builds more shoulder, forearm, back, and loin
Adds significant tone and conditioning to the back and stifle muscles
Expands tensile strength of tendons and ligaments, and cardiopulmonary strength and capacity
With each step a horse takes, three to seven times the weight of its body is thrust on the joints.But those same steps taken in water, coupled with its natural buoyancy, gently lift the pressure off the joints.For horses recovering from injury or surgery, the Underwater Treadmill can maintain a fit condition, while providing therapy for recovery.Evidence has proven that the Underwater Treadmill is unequaled for therapeutic healing and conditioning.The Horse magazine noted, “In an underwater treadmill, the buoyancy of the water reduces the horse’s weight so there is less strain on supporting structures of the legs – bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments.Many people incorporate the underwater treadmill into a rehabilitation program for an injured horse.It will provide conditioning of the cardiovascular and muscular systems while unloading the limbs….Evidence indicates that horses which would be unable to exercise are able to work in an underwater treadmill without deterioration of the primary problem…”
The 5W Ranch recently implemented the Spook Less Program as part of the “whole horse” concept.The Spook Less is a program developed for conditioning horses to a wide diversity of sounds, objects, equipment, and unusual environments to aid in de-sensitizing a horse.Horses are trained not to be distracted or "spooked" by frightening sounds, equipment, objects, etc.
The Final Result
Combined with our unique, individualized nutritional and health program, the result is a fit, sound horse prepared to compete in any variety of activities: halter, performance, race, endurance, breeding, etc.We fit the whole horse: the body, mind and attitude.
How many of the horses showing today will be showing tomorrow? Will they be sound with good minds? The 5W Ranch has developed a program so that you can enjoy your champion today and in the future.
We’re offering the industry a choice…….come see what we can do.
Our training programs are affordable for every horse owner.