Improving a Horse’s Proprioception During Rehabilitation

Learn about three techniques riders can use to improve motion deficits using the horse’s proprioceptive awareness.

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Improving a Horse’s Proprioception During Rehabilitation
Proprioception refers to a horse’s awareness of his body’s position and movements, including limb and foot placement. | Photo:

After a horse recovers from orthopedic injury, he might still show lingering signs of gait abnormalities, stiffness, muscle atrophy, and incoordination. Will these performance-limiting issues resolve on their own? Most likely, no.

At 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, spoke about proprioceptive stimulation techniques owners can use to help restore recovering horses’ “range of joint motion, muscle activation, and muscular coordination and strength.”

Proprioception refers to a horse’s awareness of his body’s position and movements, including limb and foot placement. Unconscious proprioception coordinates a horse’s posture and basic locomotion, whereas conscious proprioception facilitates more complex locomotor tasks, Clayton explained

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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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