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Equine Sports Medicine


Equine Sports Medicine....

I have combined the use of different therapies for the treatment of various injuries in horses. I have found that by doing this the results are excellent in recovery of injuries.

In this section I will broadly cover the use of Chiropractic Treatment, Massage Therapy, Laser Therapy, Magnetic Therapy, Acupuncture and Acupressure and  Physical Therapy.

Chiropractic Treatment....

There seems to be a lot of skepticism about the use of chiropractic treatment with horses. There are very few true practitioners around who have perfected this treatment, worse still there is limited knowledge available on the correct manipulation process. 

Properly administered, chiropractic treatment is one of the most useful aids for the treatment of neck, shoulder and back problems in horses. Treatment is often quick, the results are usually noticed with-in a day or two, if not immediately. The benefits are, that it is completely drug free and there is very little lay off time required.

The two most asked questions regarding this type of treatment is: how is manipulation carried out on a horse, and, how can a person of say 160lb man handle a 1000lb horse.

The answers are simple, manipulation is carried out with the horse standing, and with regards as to how you can man handle a 1000lb horse, there are certain techniques used for the horse to relax and trust the practitioner. Properly executed manipulation does not rely on strength. The key word is "relax", if a person performing this type of treatment cannot relax the horse than the result of treatment may not be successful.

I have been practicing chiropractic for over 25 years with excellent results, I have treated Derby, Group and Cup winners in Australia, Hong Kong, Macau and England, Endurance horses, Show jumping champions, Polo ponies, Eventers, Polocrosse horses, Dressage horses all prior to their respective day of competition. The treatments are simple and the results are there, all without the use of drugs which are now outlawed in most countries.

As earlier stated the major problem with chiropractic treatment is finding an accomplished and respected practitioner. There seems to be a bit of a "closed shop" attitude within the field and the free flow of knowledge is at this time unavailable. Maybe one day in the not too distant future some form of association will be formed to accredit practitioners.

Massage therapy....

Massage therapy has become very popular in recent years, there are now many schools that offer accredited courses. 

On its own massage can be a helpful tool in keeping a horse free of muscle soreness. There are many and varied methods of massage, depending on the college of instruction.

Its use can be limited to the severity of the condition, where there is no underlying major problem the results or usually quite good. Just like your self, if you are just fatigued from over exertion there is probably nothing better than a good rub down to relieve your aching muscles.

However, if there are other causes which by direct association manifest into muscular soreness, the results are sometimes short lived. I have found that in the racing industry where there is normally a lot of stress placed on the horse in its training program, massage, used on its own, offers only short term relief. With the racehorse the whole physical system is under stress, it takes a good conditioner to manage the horses progress to top fitness. 

If you are considering doing a course on the techniques of massage, it would be also advisable to incorporate a program where you can learn the basics of feeding, training, and general management of the horses well being. This would give you a good insight into the stress a horse goes through in a normal training program.

Laser Therapy....

Another great tool which is becoming popular with many horse people. The benefits of using lasers for the treatment of lameness are many. For reducing inflammation, reducing soreness, general toning and maintenance of existing injuries there are few other appliances which compare with the results.

In general lasers help increase blood flow to an injury, by increasing blood flow you increase the healing process. Laser therapy can reduce the actual healing time of injuries. 

Normally most users of lasers concentrate their therapy on the site of injury, and the results are usually good. However I have found by incorporating the principals of acupuncture and directing the laser at the acupuncture points which are associated with the point of injury, the healing of injury offers a better result, often quicker.

For maintenance of old or existing injury, laser offers good results, often allowing the horse to compete comfortably. Again I favor the combination of acupuncture point and site of injury therapy.

There are now a lot of lasers on the market, care should be taken when choosing one for your own use. Some models which are being offered around the horse industry are small pen sized units which were designed for the use on humans and canines. I have found that these units, although will assist, are not powerful enough for the horse, especially when used for deep muscle injury.

On a whole though laser therapy offers good benefits and used properly no side effects have been noted. Care should be taken when using lasers as they can damage eyes, do not under any circumstances look directly into the beam, and care should be also taken with your horses eyes.

Magnetic Therapy....

Magnetic therapy has been around for centuries, only in recent years has the use been afforded toward the horse industry.

There are many types of magnetic products available nowadays from specially designed boots, rugs, belts and singular magnetic buttons all impregnated with a series of magnets. There are rugs and appliances for electro-magnetic therapy.

There seems to be benefits in using these products on horses, the principal effect is to get the blood flow going which in turn increases healing. I have seen good results when used for the relief of arthritic pain and hoof problems.

Generally though I do prefer to use this type of therapy in conjunction with another therapy. After chiropractic manipulation magnetic therapy has proven beneficial. As a maintenance program for horses with sore backs these have also proven worthwhile.

For normally trouble free therapy and user friendly products available, magnetic therapy has its place in the horse industry. It has been found that regular and long term use is more beneficial than occasional use. Keep this in mind when considering this type of therapy. 

Acupuncture and Acupressure....

Acupuncture (traditional chinese) has been in use in the horse industry for many years. Benefits and application is relatively easy, although at times, some horse will react to the insertion of needles and care is often required when applying.

There is often very quick relief attained with the use of acupuncture. I have found that neck problems respond very quickly, usually with one or two treatments. Lameness in the forelegs and shoulders also show good response, Back and hindquarter problems usually take a little longer to respond. 

For neck and back problems the combination of manipulation, acupuncture and magnetic therapy on severely effected horses offer very good recovery rates. 

Acupressure is a spin off of acupuncture and also has great benefits for healing. The knowledge of all the acupuncture points, there association with the affected are of injury can be helpful in healing time. The principals involved are much the same as acupuncture, energy flow and blood flow. 

Acupressure use with massage therapy also offers benefits as far as muscular problems go. Acupressure will assist in relaxation, therefore a state of calm is attained. I often use acupressure points when attending a nervous or highly strung horse, it is of great help if the horse is relaxed prior and during treatment.

Another benefit that I use, is that I find it very easy in assessing where the main cause of injury is located. Pressure points are all related, and the knowledge of this can actually lead you to the injury. By using a series of points you can track down where the complaint is with uncanny accuracy. I use this theory when first inspecting a horse, by running my hands over the horses body from head to tail, certain pressure points will be sensitive. Once I have a response to a particular point, I then run through a series of other points which are related, eliminating areas as I go and within a very short period of time I am able to pin point the injury.

Physical Therapy....

A tried and true therapy to assist on the road to recovery. Although this is normally is a series of treatments at regular intervals, it is often an expensive course to take, unless you have the financial resources to pay a professional. I usually detail a line of therapy and then spend time in instructing the owner or person in charge of the horse on how to administer the therapy. Then would call back at a later date to check on the progress.

Therapy varies as to the state of injury, an assessment of the probable outcome should also be made. Physical therapy is probably the most intense of all the therapies and can be a combination of the above therapies.

Most major injuries will respond to therapy, and recovery will often be more satisfactory than just placing the horse in a paddock to let nature take its course. The downside of this is the intensity of treatment, the length of time therapy takes and often the cost involved.

A point to consider before deciding on the immediate future of an injured horse is what the long term outcome could be, compared to what the long term outcome will be. Profession opinion is often the best option.


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