Why does my horse need Equine Physiotherapy?
Every horse is an athlete from the Olympic eventing team to happy hackers. All of our ridden horses are expected to perform in their own capacity, push boundaries that they may not naturally do and carry us all the while. This makes them more prone to picking up injuries, niggles and areas of soreness. Therefore, it is our responsibility to make sure we keep them in the best shape possible.
Veterinary physiotherapy should form a part of your horse’s regular maintenance programme, to keep them comfortable and in the best possible shape. Just like you have the farrier and dentist routinely to keep your horse in the best health, regular physiotherapy sessions help keep your horse comfortable and able to perform to the best of your ability.
As a veterinary physiotherapist I can help your horse, either in conjunction with your veterinary surgeon to manage ongoing issues, such as kissing spines, or just to keep the niggles and sore spots at bay.
What areas will be addressed through my horse’s physiotherapy plan?
- Areas of tight/low muscle tone. Horses should have a general good muscle mass. If your horse is under-developed or really low toned in one area, in comparison to another, this can mean your horse is not using that area. This is putting addition strain on the other soft tissue structures that are working hard and is likely to result in injury later down the line. Equally those areas which your horse is overusing can get tight and sore. Sessions of physiotherapy include work to help these areas of extreme muscle tone.
- Asymmetries of the musculoskeletal system. Unfortunately, none of us own a perfectly symmetrical horse; there is no such thing. What that means is that every horse is using themselves incorrectly to one degree or another. As a result, no horse is using themselves to the best of their ability. They all have a stronger side and a weaker side. I will need to work on the asymmetries to reduce them and keep them as aligned as possible.
- Pain management. Like humans, horses can experience pain for a number of reasons including arthritic joints, areas of scarring and restriction and areas of extreme muscle tightness. Unlike humans, horses cannot communicate that they are in pain. I will therefore identify any areas of painful tissue and seek to resolve them.
- Joint mobility. Again, like humans, when a horse has arthritis, they tend to be a bit like us and protect themselves by not using that painful joint. The result is that the joint becomes less and less mobile and when they do use it, it becomes more sore. It really is a viscous circle. From a durability point of view, we want to keep the joints as mobile as possible for as long as possible. This is something I will look to do.
- Improved range of motion. Some horse owners may think they don’t need good range of motion as they don’t have a 3 star event or dressage horse. However, range of motion comes hand in hand with joint mobility. Even if you are hacking over the moors once a month, you need range of motion. I will use stretches and range of motion exercises to maximise your horse’s range of motion.
- Improved muscle bulk and strength. We all want our horses to be fit and strong to perform for us, whatever it is they that we are asking them to do. I will therefore use a variety of methods and exercises to work on improving their muscle bulk and strength.
All of the above add up to a more comfortable horse. The result is what everyone is striving for, an improved way of going and a horse able to perform at their best.
What are the signs that my horse may need more than their usual maintenance session?
- Loss of performance;
- Ridden issues such as a disunited canter, hollowing of the back or reluctance to accept a contact;
- Grumpiness when being groomed or tacked up;
- Difficulty performing movements on one rein;
- Jumping off to one side or consistently landing on one leg after a fence;
- Behavioural issues including bucking, rearing and napping;
- Difficulty when being asked to back up;
- Difficulty going up or down hills;
- Rehabilitation from a variety of injuries such as muscle injuries, tendon and ligament injuries, proximal suspensory desmitis, kissing spines etc.
For more information or an informal chat regarding your horse’s equine physio needs contact us.