Horse Rehabilitation Exercises From the Ground

Find out how dynamic mobilization, core strengthening, and balancing exercises can help stabilize the horse’s spine and the fore- and hind limbs’ attachment to the body.

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horse rehabilitation exercises
Perform dynamic mobilization exercises on young horses to prepare them for work under saddle; on athletic horses to improve performance and help back injuries heal; and on horses that have had colic surgery starting one month post-surgery. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse

When a horse suffers a musculoskeletal injury, the following events typically include a diagnosis, treatment, and return to soundness. To make a full athletic recovery, however, affected horses might benefit from specific forms of rehabilitation that restore function to the back’s deep stabilizing muscles.

During the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Focus on the Sport Horse program, held July 20-22, in Louisville, Kentucky, Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, Dipl. ACVSMR, McPhail Dressage Chair Emerita at Michigan State University and president of Sport Horse Science, in Mason, Michigan, described rehabilitation exercises that owners can perform from the ground. These are particularly useful for horses with back pain or a history of back pain and are an adjunct to ridden rehab exercises.

In her presentation Clayton described three types of core training exercises: dynamic mobilization, core strengthening, and balancing. She said these exercises’ main purpose is to help stabilize the horse’s spine and the fore- and hind limbs’ attachment to the body

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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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