Physiotherapy can be beneficial for a wide range of horses, from those who hack and school occasionally to those competing at the top level of their discipline. The aim of equine physiotherapy is to identify and treat any problems to enable them to participate to best of their ability. The different treatment techniques used will help to reduce pain, improve muscle control and encourage correct movement patterns so that your horse can function as normally as possible.
Often, we work closely with your vet to get the best outcome. This is especially relevant when lameness or neurological signs are present or post surgery.
As well as treating a specific problem, physiotherapy can be used to improve or maintain performance and to prevent injury. Regular check ups can identify and treat problems at an early stage before they affect performance.
Please read below to find out more or get in touch with any queries. Also, visit the Facebook page and click like for regular updates as well as relevant and interesting articles.
Signs your horse has a problem
Change in performance or willingness to work
Bucking, napping, rearing
Schooling problems e.g. stiff to one side, difficulty doing lateral work, lacks straightness or impulsion, hollowing
Disunited in canter, incorrect strike off
Jumping- refusing or running out, struggling to shorten or lengthen stride
Irritable when grooming, tacking up or rugging
Back and pelvis problems- pain, weakness, asymmetry, muscle spasm, stiffness
Soft tissue injuries (muscle, tendon, ligament)
Rehabilitation post surgery
Maintenance of competition horses
The assessment involves finding out the horses history, routine and current problems. It focuses on the horse as a whole to ensure that both primary and secondary issues are identified.
Your horse will be observed standing, moving in hand and ridden where necessary.
The muscles and soft tissues will be palpated and joint range of movement assessed.
The assessment is used to identify any particular problems such as weakness, pain, muscle spasm, altered movement pattern or reduced movement of a joint.
Often the issues identified are secondary to an underlying cause. These can include orthopedic problems such as kissing spines, foot pain, arthritis, rider imbalance or poorly fitting tack. These will need to be addressed by the appropriate professional to prevent reoccurrence of the problem.
Following assessment, the most appropriate methods of treatment will be chosen. This is usually a combination of different treatments. The different options, treatment frequency and goals will be discussed with the owner.
Manual therapy such as massage, myofascial release, trigger point release and stretching. These help to reduce muscle spasm and pain so that your horse is more willing and able to use muscles correctly .
Electrotherapy includes laser, pulsed electro magnetic energy (PEME) and TENS. These promote healing and reduce swelling and pain. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is used to encourage muscle activity and strengthening.
Exercises are an essential part of the program and used alongside the other treatments. They include polework, core stability exercises and strengthening exercises. The exercises are used to improve strength, stability, movement and proprioception. Long reining or lunging is often recommended.
Advice will be given to complement the treatments used. It may beneficial to make changes to the horses routine or exercise in the short or long term. It is often advised that other professionals are consulted such as vet, farrier, dentist, nutritionist or saddle fitter. The whole horse must be considered when addressing or trying to prevent problems. This is necessary as each area of the body is linked and each system is connected. For example, there is a strong link between back pain and lameness. Similarly, if your horse has digestive problems such as ulcers, this can cause back pain.