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Rehabilitation Strategies for Lame Horses: Restoring Mobility and Strength

Lameness is a condition that can affect your horse's ability to comfortably move around. If left untreated it can lead to long-term complications, but luckily, there are ways to manage this condition and the pain associated with it. Today, our Ocala equine vets discuss rehabilitation strategies such as strength training to treat lameness in horses.

What is lameness in horses?

If your horse is experiencing an abnormal gait or stance, typically accompanied by pain, they may be experiencing lameness. There are several reasons why a horse's gait or stance may change suddenly, such as with many physical or neurological conditions.

Most commonly, the condition or injury affects the musculoskeletal system of the horse. Lameness can affect horses of all sizes, breeds, and ages with varying severity.

Equine Rehabilitation & Strength Training For Lameness

Horses are incredible creatures, and when working together with their trainer, owner, or rider, a horse can accomplish incredible feats and showcase immense power.

Unfortunately, the strain that may be felt by a horse can result in injuries and conditions such as lameness. The good news is that there are treatment options and therapies to help manage the symptoms associated with lameness.

Horse Physiotherapy

When you think of rehabilitation you may immediately think of physio or physiotherapy. This can help treat lameness while being a great supplemental therapy to help keep your horse healthy and happy.

Benefits of physiotherapy for horses:

  • Avoid compensation: Because horses aren't built to be ridden, regular physiotherapy can help ensure they remain in peak health and posture to minimize the risk of lameness.
  • Management of old injuries: When a horse experiences an injury or recovery from a procedure, they may have developed habits to help displace weight to compensate for pain and recovery. Physiotherapy may be able to reverse these habits and manage any pain that they feel.
  • Continuity: It is ideal to remain with the same equine veterinary therapist to help appropriately monitor their condition. This consistency in practitioners means that any potential issues can be spotted and managed quickly.
  • Relief from long-term problems: Chronic conditions like arthritis are known to respond quite well to physiotherapy.
  • Performance enhancement: Physiotherapy can have the additional benefit of improving stride length and fitness, and enhancing overall performance

Horse Hydrotherapy

Equine hydrotherapy is beneficial for enhancing suppleness and stride length, increasing cardiovascular fitness, and helping build muscle tone, and core strength. This can also help to improve their overall level of fitness.

Hydrotherapy can help the horse experience a full-body workout with low impact and reduced weight bearing. The colder temperature of the water reduces pain and the resistance of the flow of the water improves circulation.

Benefits of hydrotherapy for horses:

  • Improve the overall performance
  • Encourage mobilization of soft tissues
  • Develop and improve core strength
  • Reduces recovery time for injuries in some cases
  • Improve both muscle tone and strength
  • Reduces weight while performing exercises
  • Encourage lateral flexion of the back
  • Improve length of stride
  • Reduce concussion
  • Improve fitness and stamina
  • Increase flexibility and suppleness
  • Promote muscle development
  • Hydrostatic pressure assists circulation and reduces swelling

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding animals or professional advice regarding equine regulations. For the diagnosis of your animal's condition and help to navigate rules governing the care and transportation of equine animals, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you would like to learn more about rehabilitation for horses experiencing lameness, please contact our Ocala veterinarians right away.

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Florida Equine Veterinary Associates is passionate about the health of sport and performance horses. Get in touch today to book your equine athelete's first appointment.

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