prevent | rehabilitate | perform
Just like us our horses can be susceptible to a myriad of minor (and more serious) injuries, aches and pains. Also, just like us, they have a natural asymmetry meaning that they have a stronger and a weaker side. This can cause imbalances in the musculoskeletal system which may manifest as difficulty with self-carriage, suppleness and balance, in other words, performance issues.
Many soft tissue issues are cumulative, so they start as a minor problem such as a spasm or tear, which, if picked up early can be treated before they develop into a more significant problem. Early identification of any soft tissue abnormalities cannot be under-estimated because horses working with a degree of discomfort will adapt their way of going to accommodate the discomfort. This can lead to further problems such as atrophy of the injured muscles and overuse of compensatory muscle groups. How this may present to the rider could be as loss of performance, behavioural issues or as physical issues.
Early identification by a skilled therapist means subtle changes can be managed at an early stage thus maintaining a horse’s performance level. This becomes even more important when we consider that minor
muscle injuries take up to 90 days to become apparent by which time a number of compensatory issues may have arisen.
Soft tissue and joint mobilisation therapy can target and release tension before any symptoms present, helping prevent any future problems. For this reason, incorporating regular soft tissue therapy into a horse’s training programme is very beneficial.
Despite best efforts sometimes injuries cannot be prevented and, in these cases, soft tissue therapy can be very effective in supporting the rehabilitation and recovery process. In addition muscle sensitivity can be secondary to chronic orthopaedic issues, injuries or illness. The therapy techniques I use are applied to the soft tissue structures of your horse’s body, that is to say the muscles, ligaments and tendons, to keep or return them to good health. In addition the manipulation and mobilisation techniques also work towards
achieving optimal ranges of movement in the joints.
I always work with veterinary consent. Under the Veterinary Surgeon’s Act this is a legal requirement for all
therapists and is applicable even if your horse has no apparent issues.
In rehabilitative cases I work especially closely with the incumbent veterinary surgeon and any other equine
paraprofessionals who are involved in the horse’s recovery including physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and farriers.
Research shows that massage therapy significantly increases protraction of horses’ limbs (increases the stride length to you and I). As such massage and active and passive stretching play an important role in the development of strategies to improve locomotor function resulting in improved equine
performance (source: The Royal Veterinary College research published in Equine Veterinary Journal)