Physiotherapy within the equine world can benefit your horse’s welfare and comfort in many ways. Applying non-invasive techniques and exercise prescription as an alternative or complimentary solution to medicated pain relief, physiotherapy for your horse aids recovery from injury, improves musculoskeletal strength and flexibility and helps prevent re-injury. The benefits of equine physiotherapy have been widely accepted in the veterinarian community for many years.
Physiotherapy can benefit horses of all disciplines and abilities; it’s not just for your elite competition horse. Horses often compensate for any pain felt by adapting their posture and gait, meaning that sometimes issues can go unnoticed for quite some time and secondary/compensatory issues can arise as a result. As an owner it is important to recognise any behavioural signs which may be your horse’s way of communicating with you to let you know that they are in pain:
- Behavioural issues, rearing, bucking, head shaking, napping
- Decline in performance including schooling issues and refusing jumps
- Reluctance to engage and use hind limbs
- Change in temperament such as dislike of being groomed or resentfulness towards being tacked up or rugged
- Lack of straightness and symmetry
- Muscle loss or uneven development and saddle slipping
- Abnormal shoe wear
- Wound healing
- Tendon and ligament damage
- Muscles strains or spasms
- Back pain including Kissing Spine
- Post-surgery rehabilitation.
Equine physiotherapy is an effective and scientifically proven modality to reduce pain, tissue damage and compensatory discomfort related to a variety of physical ailments. The purpose is to encourage or boost the natural healing process in order to regain, maintain and improve functional ability of limbs and joints and thus improve quality of life. Benefits of physio for your horse can include:
- Improved muscle balance and symmetry
- Improved strength and flexibility in movement
- Improved overall movement quality through pain erradication
- Reduced healing times
- A faster return to work post injury
- Effective, progressive and practical rehabilitation and advice.
Conditions such as capped hocks, laminitis and poor foot balance can often make the horse alter its gait to mask and compensate for the pain and this often results in secondary problems such as back pain and muscle spasms. Your Physio will use a variety of techniques to resolve discomfort, as well as prescribing a detailed experience programme to help re-educate your horses gait and posture.
Physiotherapy can help improve performance, prevent injury, and enhance mobility and suppleness. It is good practice to have your horse or pony routinely checked, even if there is no specific injury or trauma in order to identify small problems early and prevent them turning into serious issues.
In the horsey world opinions can be divided about what is right and most beneficial for your horse or what you should and should not do. I think most will agree this can cause some conflict at times when it really is not needed and with an aim to give clear and helpful advice, I’m happy to chat over which theraputic modality should best suit you and your horse’s specific needs; such as whether to choose a physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor, massage therapist, hydrotherapist and many other practitioners.