About Equine Physiotherapy

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How do I know if my horse needs a veterinary physiotherapy treatment?

Modern demands that we place on our horses from stabling, to haynets, to ridden work mean that our beloved four legged friends require additional TLC to ensure they are in optimum condition. Contrary to common belief, physiotherapy is not exclusively for injured or high performance horses. I believe that every horse and pony can benefit from physiotherapy treatment, as the aim is not only to improve performance but to also improve comfort and aid in the prevention of injury.

What can I expect from a veterinary physiotherapy treatment with my horse?

Whether your horse is a leisure or performance horse, the therapeutic purpose of a veterinary physiotherapy treatment is to promote musculoskeletal health and psychological well-being in order to allow for improved suppleness and extensibility of movement. The initial consultation has four stages.

(1) Discussion

At the beginning of the session we will have a discussion that will involve bringing together information of: your horses history, concerns you may have and short term/long term goals that you would like to achieve.

(2) Assessment

Your horse will then be assessed statically and dynamically, and the link between your horses posture when stationary versus when moving will be discussed. From this, key findings will direct to areas of improvement to focus our treatment and rehabilitation on.

(3) Treatment

Depending upon what is found during the assessment, a variety of treatment modalities will be used in order to improve muscle quality and joint range of motion. This will allow for developments to your horses posture and gait. I often liken the first treatment to a mindfulness session. Horses are master compensators; sometimes when pain or discomfort is felt within the body it can be all too easy for them to shut down the site of the pain and use other parts of their body instead. This is where secondary problems begin to arise. Within the first session, therapeutic pressure brings the horses awareness back to their areas of pain, discomfort and restrictions in order to begin the cycle of processing, reprogramming and recovery.

  • Massage
  • Trigger point release therapy
  • Myofascial release
  • Kinesiology taping (Qualified kinesiology taping practitioner)
  • Joint mobilisations
  • Targeted, therapeutic stretches

(4) Exercise Prescription

A bespoke exercise prescription programme will be created and tailored to your horses individual needs. Through this, the suppleness and flexibility of your horse can be maintained and improved on between treatments. This may involve the following:

  • Pole work
  • Stretches
  • Ridden exercises
  • Ground work exercises

What happens after the appointment?

SUPPORT THROUGH THE UPS AND DOWNS: Vet Physio Phyle strongly advocates an integrated patient-owner-physiotherapist approach. This means that whether your horse is a post-surgical case that requires weekly treatments, or a leisure horse that is on a maintenance schedule, extensive aftercare and communications are available to all clients in between treatments. I strongly believe in providing an encouraging support network, providing you with the ability to look at your horse(s) with a therapeutic eye.

REST: I recommend your horse is allowed to rest with no ridden work for 24 hours following treatment, although this can vary case to case and will be discussed at the time of the appointment.

REPORT: A report is written following the appointment, which will be available to be sent to your vet, farrier, saddler, dentist etc as required to promote communications through all members of the team looking after your horse.

Why do you need to obtain veterinary consent before you treat my horse?

Section 19 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966) outlines how the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery is restricted to RCVS members. An extension of this law is the Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order (1962) states that:  any treatment by physiotherapy given to an animal by a person must be under the direction (i.e. prescription) of a veterinary surgeon. As such, it is important that a veterinary physiotherapist only treats an animal after referral from a veterinary surgeon. By treatment, we mean physiotherapy targeted at an already diagnosed condition, with the purpose of curing or improving that condition.

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