Rehabilitating Horses with Back Problems

Learn about methods, from stretches to hydrotherapy, for rehabilitating horses recovering from any number of back problems.
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Horses can suffer musculoskeletal pain and injuries anywhere along the axial skeleton that comprises the skull, vertebral column, sternum, and ribs. Bringing these horses back to form post-injury can be difficult and time-consuming, but possible thanks to both time-tested mobilization exercises and cutting-edge physical therapy techniques.

During the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Focus on the Sport Horse program, held July 20-22, in Louisville, Kentucky, Philippe Benoit, DVM, MS, of Clinique Equine des Breviaires in France and former veterinarian for the French show jumping team, described methods for rehabilitating horses recovering from any number of back problems.

After a thorough clinical exam and movement evaluation, “the first technique of rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disease is to obtain progressive movement and mobilization of the affected areas,” Benoit said. The main idea behind rehab, he said, is to restore a horse’s normal motion.

Owners can perform various mobilization techniques when the horse is cold (before being exercised), warming up, and warmed up

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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