How to Utilize Your Equine Physical Therapist

Prior to the 1980s, physical therapy was thought to be effective only in human medical care. The parallels between human athletes and equine athletes had not yet been drawn to the extent that they are today. As trainers came to recognize that
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Prior to the 1980s, physical therapy was thought to be effective only in human medical care. The parallels between human athletes and equine athletes had not yet been drawn to the extent that they are today. As trainers came to recognize that horses were not merely running machines, but athletes which would respond to appropriate conditioning programs, use was made of the growing body of knowledge coming from human sports medicine.






ANNE EBERHARDT


An equine physical therapist must work in concert with the attending veterinarian. An accurate veterinary diagnosis is necessary for successful treatment with therapy.


Concepts such as progressive resistance and ladder workouts, aerobic and anaerobic muscle fiber conditioning, and the use of specific warm-up and cool-down exercises come from research on human physiological response to training. From these human sports medicine roots grew equine therapy.


Human sports medicine specialists are trained to recognize the location and extent of injury and apply first aid, plan conditioning programs to minimize the risk of injury, and carry out rehabilitation after injury. The tools of rehabilitation include cold, heat, exercise, massage, laser, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and magnetic fields. The human sports medicine specialist works by referral from a physician. Because equine therapy is practiced largely by untrained individuals, it is essential that a thorough veterinary evaluation precede the use of any therapeutic tool or procedure

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Mimi Porter lives in Lexington, Ky., where she has practiced equine therapy since 1982. Prior to that, she spent 10 years as an athletic trainer at the University of Kentucky. Porter authored The New Equine Sports Therapy

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