There are three primary ways in which physiotherapy can be used to help your horse...
1. For remedial care after a specific injury or problem
Treatment in the early stages following injury or a loss of performance is essential to try to optimise the speed and extent of recovery. Veterinary physiotherapy is a useful non-invasive adjunct to the services provided by your veterinary surgeon to potentially provide a higher quality of treatment for your horse - equine physiotherapy does not provide an alternative to veterinary medicine and treatment but instead works alongside it to try to enhance the recovery process.
Equine physiotherapy can be used to effectively assist with many musculoskeletal problems, including:
Injuries to muscle, tendon, ligament, bones, joints and/or nerves
Sore or 'cold' back issues, dorsal spinous process impingement ('kissing spines')
The management of osteoarthritis in joints and any associated muscular compensations
Poll and sacroiliac or pelvic dysfunction
Where there is a specific need for muscle re-education or strengthening (for example to assist with upward fixation of the patella ('locking stifle') issues)
Post-surgery (including colic surgery) to help optimise tissue healing, reduce the formation of scar tissue, and for rehabilitation
General poor performance issues where other problems might have either already been diagnosed or ruled out. For example, the horse might be displaying stiffness on one rein, crookedness, jumping difficulties (flat, jumping to one side, refusals or run outs etc.), unwillingness to work into a contact, reluctance to canter on one particular lead, behavioural changes etc.
2. For maintenance care to optimise comfort and performance in healthy horses
Even if there have not been any specific veterinary issues with your horse, regular maintenance physiotherapy checks can help to ensure that your horse's comfort, and performance if they are working, are optimised. Minor discomfort in the body can often go unnoticed at first because horses will often instinctively try to just compensate for problems. Any alterations of movement and weight shifting away from areas of discomfort might initially be really quite subtle because they have four legs to try to centre their body weight between.
A routine 'MOT' check can frequently identify and help to address any smaller issues before they have chance to develop into something that then begins to more noticeably affect your horse's performance or behaviour. Minor musculoskeletal discomfort could potentially begin to arise from many different 'every day' occurrences e.g. horses playing roughly together in the field, a need for saddle fit/flocking alterations, or simply an accumulation of minor muscle strains during work. Physiotherapy therefore has a key part to play in any horse's wellness programme working in conjunction with the rest of your team of professionals.
3. To assist with performance development and competition care of the equine athlete
For competition horses, excellent posture and movement quality are essential for performance and these routine checks can form part of a more focused performance development plan, designed to try to help you achieve specific desired goals. Advice can be given regarding general fitness regimes, warm ups and cool downs, peaking and tapering strategies etc. to help to reduce the risk of injuries and maximise your horse's performance ready for those important events. Any areas of the horse's body that may be slightly 'weaker' can be expertly evaluated in relation to the specific requirements of your discipline. A tailored programme designed to address and support those issues will help to keep your training progressing forward more easily and ultimately help improve your horse's performance.
To discover the different types of treatments offered, please click here or simply contact us for a free, no obligation discussion of how Hannah might be able to help you and your horse.