Whether you are already in partaking in serious competition, or simply want to see what you and horse can achieve together – you want to know that your horse is comfortable and fit for purpose. That could be hacking locally around home, or the requirements of Badminton! What is most important, is that you are recognising signs and risks of injury. It is not unusual to come across friends at your stable/yard with a good eye for identifying lameness, but what does that mean?
Questions to ask yourself if your horse is lame:
- Should you be easing off your exercise routine?
- Should you turn them out or box rest them?
- At what point do you get out the Vet?
- Is it a new or existing problem?
- What happens if you have a competition the next day?
- What happens if it occurs after unloading them when you arrive at a competition?
- Does it often or always occur after a particular activity?
- Is it often when they are brought in from the field?
We know that horses are ‘prey’ creatures, which means they usually are very stoic and guarded when they are in pain. A Physiotherapist is trained to pick apart the picture, and aims to find the cause, not just treat what they see.
Sometimes signs of illness or injury can be very subtle. If you notice any of the features below in your horse – get in touch!
- Change in behaviour or temperament
- Resenting being tacked up (bridle or saddle)
- Stiffness when riding – particularly if rein specific
- Unexplained bucking, rearing or napping
- A short choppy stride length in the school – but moves beautifully in the field?
- Difficulty establishing or maintaining an outline
- Difficulty engaging the hindquarters
- Difficulty collecting or extending
- Difficulty leading on the correct lead in canter, or becoming disunited
- Swishing tail or tossing head, particularly on transitions
- Sloppy transitions
- Refusing jumps or taking down poles
Elements of Physiotherapy can be utilised to help develop your own personalised treatment programme:
- Exercise prescription
- Joint mobilisation
- Soft tissue treatments (myofascial release, massage, stretches)
- Laser Photobiomodulation Therapy (Class IIIb and IV) – LPBMT
- Analgesia (relieving pain)
- Resolving acute and chronic inflammation
- Reducing oedema/swelling
- Healing and regenerating neural tissues
- Promoting wound healing and tissue repair
- Modulating immune response
- TENS and NMES – Analgesia and Muscle Stimulation
Much more challenging than it appears, your horse (and you!) need to have the balance of suppleness and power. No good is one without the other. Have you noticed a drop in scores? Are comments recurrently about your performance on a certain rein? Is your horse simply lacking impulsion and ‘rear-wheel drive’? Find out if it just requires a change in your exercises and schooling, or if there is a physical reason your horse can’t deliver what you are looking for.
Jumping & Eventing
Fearlessness and courage drives the adrenaline that carries you and horse round some potentially scary and risky courses. These horses require strength, stamina, flexibility and proprioception to get them safely around a course. Only a very subtle injury can affect performance or leave them liable to falls – don’t find out too late, recognise changes in your training early and get them assessed.
Hacking and Leisure
Whether you just enjoy a plod around the local lanes, or take your horse away for trekking holidays – you need to know that your horse is looking forward to every stride. Hills, slopes and strange surfaces mean your horse has to navigate its way through unpredictable territory. They often enjoy this work so much, that you may notice that they only dislike being tacked up, or have become more ‘girthy’ over the years. Is it just behavioural? Or could it be pain?