Most horse owners have received an injury or illness rehabilitation protocol from their veterinarian at some point. After veterinary diagnostics and treatment(s), most vets will send you home with a fairly straightforward plan that includes confinement, controlled exercise, cold hosing, etc. of course depending on the nature of the illness or injury being addressed.
The rehabilitation of a horse from an injury or illness can be a long, lonely, stressful and frustrating road! Additionally, getting a thousand pound horse to cooperate in the healing process is often challenging!
Some of these difficulties can be eased with a team approach and a clear understanding of a general time line that the horse can be expected to return to work.
Patience and diligence are key factors when dealing with rehabilitation! Every horse and every injury is different. Soft tissue structures in the lower limb have a limited blood supply and healing is often dreadfully slow even with regenerative therapies like PRP, IRAP or stem cells. Having a team that recognizes compensatory issues need to be addressed along with the main injury can also make a world of difference in the horse’s successful return to work.
The veterinarian is ultimately the team leader and other members of the rehabilitation team can include the farrier, veterinarian chiropractor or acupuncturist, massage and craniosacral therapists, equine dentist and trainer. It is often very difficult for horses to settle into box stall rest and controlled exercise at their training or home barn. You may find that a facility that specializes in rehabilitation is the perfect place for your horse to spend the initial weeks or months of recovery.
Ultimately, building a team of equine professionals that will look at your horse and his injury as an individual can mean a smoother and more successful recovery!
Article by Jenny Rukavina [RMSAAM Canine and Equine Massage Instructor] and re-printed by permission of: KAM Animal Services, home of KAM’s “Equine Learning Circle” FREE monthly webinars and weekly tips.