What can I expect from my horse’s veterinary physiotherapy session?
As the owner you will be required to discuss a thorough history to fully understand the nature of their complaint. The horse will then be assessed in walk and trot to establish any asymmetries. The horse’s muscle development will be checked and discussed with you as the owner so you can understand any areas of weakness and the impacts this may have on your horse’s way of going.
Following this your horse will receive either massage and soft tissue techniques or electrotherapy. Your vet physio will then discuss any management options that will enhance your horse benefits from the session and any exercises you can apply.
Will my horse need more than one session?
Yes, it is highly likely your dog will need more than one session, this is as muscle memory occurs in all tissues, therefore to re-establish a normal movement pattern several sessions will be required. If your dog has muscle loss on a particular area, it will take time to rehabilitate to symmetrical muscles. To receive the best quality care possible, the physiotherapist will discuss how many sessions your dog may need. Block bookings are available for rehabilitation cases.
Does a vet need to give permission?
Yes, your veterinarian will need to give permission for your horse to be treated and you will be asked to sign a form at the start of each session confirming that this is still the case, even for maintenance sessions.
Can my horse have normal exercise after their treatment?
It is recommended that you do not exercise your horse after their session, but turn-out or in-hand walking may be recommended dependent on the scenario. It is generally recommended that you do not ride in the first 24 hours after the session as your horse may feel uncomfortable where the saddle sits. Other exercise may be discussed during your session depending on the reason for treatment and your stable management.
Are there other things that I can do to help my horse?
There may be exercises you can do to treat your horse, ranging from heat/ice, to gentle massage and other soft tissue exercises. Other factors may also affect your horse’s way of going and therefore changing these may impact the benefits of physiotherapy, these may include dentistry, farriery, saddle fit and the methods of training used.
Does my horse have to have a condition to receive veterinary physiotherapy?
Your horse doesn’t need a specific condition to benefit from veterinary physiotherapy. Any discomfort can benefit from a pull in the field to knocking a fence out jumping. Any horse can benefit.
What conditions can benefit from veterinary physiotherapy?
Any horse can benefit from physiotherapy, but some of the leading conditions in horses include kissing spines (over-riding dorsal spinous processes), sacroiliac joint disease, suspensory ligament/tendon injures, upward fixation of the patella (sticky stifles). There are many other causes to loss of performance which can also be treated.
My horse is insured; will the insurance company pay for the veterinary physiotherapy?
Many insurance companies may cover veterinary physiotherapy, but this will depend very much on your own policy and it’s best to check with your company. However, you will still need to pay your veterinary physiotherapy fees at the time of your appointment and then the appropriate paperwork will be filed for a claim to be made.
My horse is on medication; do you need to know about this?
Yes, all medication should be made known to the veterinary physiotherapist and will be discussed at both the initial session and in following sessions to clarify any changes.
What are the benefits to my horse if their receiving physiotherapy?
Many horses can have an altered gait, by one reason or another, which may affect their ridden performance and comfort. Conditions can be managed and rehabilitated so they do not become chronic issues with long term effects.
The main effects of physiotherapy are pain relief, re-balancing musculature, allowing your horse to return to previous level of activity. If your horse has had surgery the healing process can be optimised, but even the smallest complaint can be managed ensuring your horse feels its best at all times.
During my physiotherapy session, you discussed factors that may influence my horse. What are these?
Some of the main factors which may influence your horse’s performance and way of going are day to day maintenance (i.e. stabled vs turn-out), saddle fit, dentistry and farriery also have major impacts to your horse.
Saddle fit impacts many of the major structures of the horse and may mean the horse cannot use its back and core effectively, therefore the fore and hindlimb actions are affected impacting the horse’s comfort, well-being and ultimately performance.
Dentistry not only affects the horse’s ability to chew and the muscles of the face and poll, but these muscles connect to larger muscles of the neck and can therefore make the horse stiff in one direction. If a horse has a sharp tooth on one side, it will lose the ability to bend when ridden. If the horse cannot move effectively through the neck, this translates throughout the entire body.
Farriery is important to the horse, whether shod or unshod, a low heel will strain the structures down the back of the limb, uneven hoof loading (high heel, low heel horses), will put further strain on the shoulder structure and surrounding muscles.
Other conditions (i.e. gastric ulcers, foaling) may also affect your horse in a long term manner, and should be discussed with your veterinarian prior to your physiotherapist.
My horse seems tired after their session, is this normal?
It is completely normal for your horse to feel slightly lethargic after treatment, natural endorphins are released. If your animal has muscular spasms, then waste products are higher in these tissues and will be removed which may fatigue the animal. These effects should last no more than 24 hours.
My horse is drinking more than normal after their session, is this normal?
This is very natural, soft tissue therapies rehydrates tissue that may have been dehydrated therefore the extra fluid is required. Your horse has not been living dehydrated, only certain muscles, but massage increases the circulatory system rehydrating these tissue.
All appointments are at pre-arranged times, subject to availability, and will involve the Veterinary Physiotherapist either coming to your home (canine) or yard (equine).
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