Veterinarians Discuss Preferred Rehab Techniques for Horses

Address the entire horse, not just the injury, when bringing a patient back to work, veterinarians say.

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rehab techniques for horses
Baited stretching can help horses with back pain during rehabilitation. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse
Veterinarians have a variety of therapies and equipment they can use to help rehabilitate horses coming back from injury. During the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California, a group of them gathered for a Table Topic discussion on this subject. Melissa King, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, and Carrie Schlachter, VMD, Dipl. ACVSMR, moderated the talk and answered questions about rehabilitating stifles, backs, suspensories, and more.

Stifle Injury

Resistance Band Training One veterinarian in attendance had been treating a horse recovering from a surgically repaired meniscal tear. The menisci are the cartilaginous discs between the femur and the tibia that facilitate frictionless stifle joint movement.

King, an assistant professor of Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, in Ft. Collins, said she likes to rehabilitate hind-limb structures using a Theraband system, in which she wraps resistance bands around the horse’s hindquarters, connecting them on each side to the saddle pad.

“I’m trying to encourage proper alignment during a controlled exercise program,” said King. “I’ll frequently use this system because horses won’t travel correctly or under themselves

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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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