When your physiotherapist arrives, they want to get as much information as possible taking a history from you, including your horse’s name, age, a history of the present problem/issue, any relevant veterinary information and anything your instructor, saddle fitter or farrier may have noticed, any behavioural changes you may have noticed, remember that you know your horse best.
They will then ask you to walk and trot your horse in a straight line whilst your physio assesses his or her movement, noting anything of interest particularly looking for symmetry. They will ask you to turn him or her in a small circle both ways, then to rein back. This evaluation gives valuable information about his or her movement and can highlight any stiffness or unevenness. It is not usually necessary to see your horse ridden, however if you feel you have an issue which you only see when ridden they may ask you to tack him or her up and pop on so they can assess further. If appropriate we will see the horse lunged on the soft to assess canter and look for lameness on a circle.
Then they will do a hands on assessment, thoroughly palpate your horse, noting any areas of soreness or muscle spasm. They will identify any swellings, heat or reduction in muscle tone. All this is noted in your horse’s physiotherapy record. They will also look at range of movement of affected areas.
They may find that your horse is in Tip Top shape and therefore no treatment is necessary.
If they find any lameness or particular soreness which they do not feel is explained by corresponding muscular soreness or spasm they may recommend that you consult your veterinary surgeon and they will be happy to relay any findings (or provide a written report if necessary) to your vet.
If they find there is any soreness present then the treatment will begin! This isn’t a generic all-over massage. The time taken will depend on the findings, and what treatment is necessary or appropriate for your horse as well as how your horse responds to the treatment. The whole appointment can take from 3/4 hour to 1 hour.
The treatment given will include lots of different manual techniques and can also include various electrotherapies if needed. The treatment is specific to your horse’s individual problems. The treatments will be adapted to how your horse responds to treatment and how he improves. You will be able to see a clear difference in the palpation after treatment.
The physio will discuss their findings with you, and work with you to set up a treatment plan going forward. They will give you some homework to help improve your horse’s suppleness, strength and to try to prevent further injuries and problems.
Depending on the amount of soreness found and the horse’s workload, they will advise a post treatment exercise plan and then recommend when you should next have your horse checked out.
If you would like to discuss anything with one of our team please don’t hesitate to ring the office on 0845 300 9032.