Tips for Returning Horses to Work After Soft Tissue Injury

Tailored rehab plans and frequent veterinary checks are just two pieces of the rehabilitation puzzle.
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Tips for Returning Horses to Work After Soft-Tissue Injury
In some cases, it’s safer and more controlled to start walking the horse under tack than in-hand, Manning said. Even if a horse is cooperative on the ground, he encouraged practitioners to start the horse tack-walking as soon as possible. | Photo: iStock

There’s no way around it: Equine soft-tissue injuries, simply due to the nature of the sports horses take part in, are all but inevitable, said Alan Manning, MSc, DVM. The good news is veterinarians can often help injured horses return to work. He said this process generally comprises 25% treatment and 75% rehabilitation.

“When soft tissue is healing, the new tissue needs to be educated on its new job,” he said. “This occurs during the rehabilitation process and has to be done gradually.”

However, he said, there are few, if any, published protocol studies detailing how to rehabilitate horses and help them return to full work. So, at the 2016 American Association of Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 3-7 in Orlando, Florida, Manning reviewed how he returns horses with soft tissue injuries to work, a task he described as “a puzzle

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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