Super suits help horses saddle up for the Olympics

March 26, 2012 at 3:41 PM ET

These special high-tech suits give a whole new meaning to the phrase “a horse of a different color.”

Aude Reubrecht Tinney Eventing / Rex Features /
Olympic horses (left to right) Pluto Mio, Panamera and Orchard Hill model their high-tech suits with their owner, Stuart Tinney.

In fact, these form-fitting garments come in many bright colors, making their wearers look like the equine equivalent of spandex-clad superheroes such as the X-Men (er, X-manes?).

But there’s a serious purpose behind  these colorful costumes: They’re designed to help the animals recover from the rigors of travel and exercise as they gear up for the Summer Olympics in London.

The super suits are the creation of Matthew Spice, director of a Sydney, Australia-based company called Hidez. Spice says the compression the suits provide enhances the horses’ blood flow and reduces the vibration their muscles undergo when they’re traveling, in turn leading to better performance in equestrian sports. They also keep the animals dry and comfortable, he adds, and they can be customized with the horse’s name or team logo.

Aude Reubrecht Tinney Eventing / Rex Features /
The suits, made by Australian company Hidez, are designed to help horses recover from travel and strenuous exercise.

After all, Spice reasoned, horses are athletes too – so it’s only logical that they would benefit from the same kind of compression garments that many runners and professional golfers wear. Five high-performance sports zippers help the suits go on and off quickly. “It's surprisingly simple,” trainer John McNair told Australian website “It takes me about three minutes to put on and 30 seconds to take off.”

Stuart Tinney, who won a gold medal for Australia in equestrian sports in 2000, uses one of the suits on his horse, Vettori. “I am confident it helps the horses muscles relax and recover after exercise,” he told the U.K. Mirror.

To capitalize on Olympic fever, Hidez is officially launching the suit in June. Makes sense – horse sense, that is. After all, they suit horses, don't they? editor Rick Schindler is trying to rein in his predilection for horse puns.