Equine Physiotherapy is a form of physical therapy and exercises geared toward the health and fitness of horses. It is important to keep work horses, such as those used on the farm, race horses, or those in training healthy and stress free for a long life. Just as injuries in humans require special care and treatments in healing, as do horses. Studies show in horses that receive equine physiotherapy recover at a quicker rate with more success than those who do not.
There are many reasons an owner might need to take his or her horse for equine physiotherapy. Injuries related to sports, age, over training, poor nutrition, improper use of saddle, imbalance of rider, and physical defects all can have a role in the type of therapy required to the animal.
Health care professionals trained in equine physiotherapy are familiar with equine anatomy and stay up to date with current technologies and medical breakthroughs. Animal physical therapists work with veterinarians and surgeons to improve the animal’s mobility, reduce pain and swelling and to prevent further irritation and injury. Care may be given at an animal hospital, or with the therapist coming to the client’s home.
The heart, lungs, muscles, bones, digestive and blood circulation are among the areas examined in equine physiotherapy. An animal physical therapist must be able to recognize conditions pertaining to lameness, muscle and spinal problems and act accordingly. Neck pain, back pain and problems, injuries in the tendons and ligaments, bruising, muscle spasms, joint and leg swellings are all treated by an animal physical therapist.
Depending on the reason for seeing a therapist, rehabilitation may last a matter of a couple weeks, to months or longer for serious injuries. It involves the horse, physical therapist, and owner, or trainer.
Each therapist has their own method of treating equine ailments, defects and injuries. Some techniques used in equine physiotherapy include therapeutic massage, soft tissue mobilization, hydrotherapy for joint and limb mobility, ultrasound, pulsating electromagnetic field therapy, and heat therapy. Prevention of injury, such as that by too fast of a cool down, is also taught to the client.
Animal physiotherapists use a variety of tools and equipment in their work. One such tool is a pack that resembles a heating pad designed to go around the horse’s breast or across the saddle area gives relief to back pain, and helps the animal’s muscular and circulatory systems.
Most animal physiotherapists start off with study under human physiotherapy before moving into equine physiotherapy. With the growing trend in animal care and injury prevention, equine physiotherapy is quickly becoming a competitive field.