Detailed Case History
Initially I will take a detailed record card for your horse to gain information regarding any current or past injuries or illnesses, changes in behaviour or performance, accidents or operations, their exercise regime and general lifestyle, whether they are presenting with specific symptoms or whether the treatment is a maintenance check-up. I will also take details regarding tack, shoeing, feeding and dentistry to build a complete picture of the history of your horse.
Static Conformation Analysis
Conformation will be assessed to look for any potential weaknesses or signs of discomfort along with asymmetry in muscle development. I will feel over your horse for any lumps, bumps, swellings, heat or changes in muscle tone.
Dynamic Gait Analysis
I will then assess your horse at walk and trot, turning in tight circles in both directions and walking backwards. In some cases it may be necessary to see your horse lunged or ridden. Watching a horse move can potentially indicate which areas require treatment and also can be a benchmark for noting changes from a previous treatment. Particular aspects to look out for are:
If an animal is harbouring pain or discomfort from an underlying condition or tension, it will try to minimise this discomfort by altering its gait. This compensatory movement plays a considerable role in the development of muscle spasm and misalignments. When the horse moves in this way the body is placed under strain. For example, a horse presenting with sore front feet will often present with tension and misalignments on palpation in the neck and wither area where he has braced to reduce the forces being transmitted through his forelimbs. This can in turn result in tension in the late thoracic and lumbar region where the horse is attempting to take more weight on the hind limbs.
The neck, back, pelvis and any other relevant joints are palpated for misalignments and
areas of muscular tension, atrophy and spasm are noted prior to treatment.
The treatment, as previously described in detail, involves treating any misaligned vertebrae using quick, precise adjustments combined with various massage techniques and passive stretching to release and soften tense muscles and restore balance and range of motion of the musculoskeletal system.
Your horse will then require the following day off work with a gradual return to full work over the next few days following treatment. This will allow the horse to gain maximum benefit from the treatment and give the adjustments the best chance of being maintained. Also post treatment you may find that he/she seems a little stiff or sore as the soft tissues readjust and rebalance in response to the treatment and they may be a little more thirsty than usual. Specific schooling exercises and stretches may be recommended to help work and stretch specific muscle groups and keep your horse in top condition.
Minor issues are usually resolved with a couple of treatments but, depending on the nature of the problem, your horse may require several treatments spread over a few months. Regular maintenance check-ups as a preventative treatment are recommended every 4-6 months to help maintain health and optimum performance. This suggested timescale will depend on the animal’s lifestyle, workload, competition schedule, pre-existing problems and whether any problems are encountered in the meantime.
Equine Physical Therapist
MSc (Animal Manipulation)
BSc (Biological Sciences)
Pg Dip (ESM)