Horses are predisposed to primary neck and back problems from the very fact that we sit on them. Normal movement will be prevented if muscles are in spasm, shortened and sore, or weak and elongated. Horses will continue to work with these issues and perform to their best ability by making compensations in the way they move and how they distribute their weight between their limbs.
If left untreated, these altered movement patterns will cause secondary soft tissue strains, and this will continue as a vicious circle, until the structures involved are unable to compensate anymore and break down, and the horse becomes obviously lame.
I recommend that any subtle decrease in performance should be investigated to resolve minor injuries before they progress, and that all ridden horses in regular work, should have routine fitness checks two to four times a year, to screen for and treat minor issues.
For horses competing at a higher level, pre and post major competitions checks will ensure that horses can perform at their optimum level and that any competition induced strains are resolved quickly.
If your horse is showing any of these issues, I recommend that you get in touch to book a physiotherapy fitness assessment:
- Resents being saddled up
- Unexplained resistances such as i.e. bucking, rearing, and napping.
- Changes in behaviour or temperament
- Stiffness to bending on one rein
- Difficulty getting an ‘outline’ or engaging hindquarters
- Shortened stride length
- Difficulty collecting or extending
- Disunited canter or incorrect leading leg on one rein
- Tosses head or swishes tail excessively
- Taking down show jumping poles
- Refusing jumps or problems with combination fences
Horses may develop an adaptive gait and back pain secondary to conformational abnormalities, or degenerative joint disease such navicular and bone spavin. They will off-load a sore joint, by shifting their weight onto another leg, often the opposite diagonal. This alters their movement pattern which will be less energy efficient, and will put extra strain on the other limbs.
I can offer treatment to prevent or minimise these secondary problems occurring, whilst the primary condition is treated by the veterinary surgeon.
When galloping high performance horses work very close to breakdown threshold of their flexor tendons and suspensory ligaments, which together with degeneration due to aging and poor regenerative properties, makes them susceptible to injury. I can offer physiotherapy techniques and a controlled progressive exercise programme to enhance the healing.
I can also treat to promote the dispersion of haematomas from kicks and collisions; and to enhance healing and minimise scarring from traumatic wounds, which is particularly important for show horses.