Getting the best from your horse by relieving pain, preventing injury, maximising movement, performance and health.
Your horse needs to be in the best possible condition to perform at their full potential. A tailored individual programme of regular osteopathic treatment alongside, regular stretching, exercises and appropriate schooling, the use of correctly fitting tack and a correct rider position can all help to achieve this, making the difference you’re looking for.
When should I contact an Equine Osteopath?
You should contact a Qualified Equine Osteopath if your horse is not performing at its best, develops any unusual problems, different behaviour patterns and has had a consultation with a veterinary surgeon to rule out any pathological problems.
How many treatments will my horse need?
This depends on what is being treated and the history of your horse. However, more details about this after the initial consultation and treatment will be provided. In general, back problems require 3 to 4 treatments and yearly maintenance check-ups are sometimes advisable as a means of preventative care; to improve mobility and movement which will then minimise the re-occurrence of injury.
How long does the treatment take?
The first treatment usually lasts approximately an hour, with follow-up treatments around 30-40 minutes.
Should my horse be checked regularly?
Yes, ideally horses in work should be checked on a regular basis – at least 3 to 4 times a year. I strongly recommend any new horse be checked immediately after purchase, to identify any problems that could benefit from preventative care. Osteopaths are trained to detect early changes in the musculo-skeletal system which could result in discomfort if treatment is delayed.
Should I consult my vet?
Yes. It is illegal for any treatment to be conducted by any other practitioner on an animal without the consent from your attending vet. Before an appointment can be made, please ask your vet to fill out the Veterinary Consent Form found at the top of the home page and to attach any relevant medical history they feel will help in the examination and treatment of your horse.
Is my horse covered for osteopathic treatment on my animal insurance?
Yes, the majority of insurance companies are happy for an animal insured with them, to receive osteopathic treatment from a registered osteopath holding valid insurance, provided that the treating vet recommends the treatment and refers the case. (Do check with your insurer prior to treatment if you wish to make a claim).
Why are some vet’s against getting my horse’s back treated?
Some Veterinary surgeons are sceptical about back treatments for animals because there are so many so-called “back persons” treating horses who have no formal qualifications. These people can actually be a danger to their patients, which is why it is essential you check the therapist treating your horse is fully qualified and insured.
How do I know if a therapist is qualified or insured?
An Osteopath trains over a period of 4 years, plus an extra year for post-graduate training in Animal Osteopathy. It is also a legal requirement for a practitioner to be fully insured to call themselves a Human/Animal Osteopath. Ask the therapist to provide you with the name and telephone number of the college they qualified from, and details of their insurance company. A legitimate and qualified animal osteopath will be happy to provide all these details, like we are at East Sussex Osteopaths. So don’t put yourself or your animal in danger, just ask!
What can equine osteopathy treat?
Osteopathy isn’t just about treating bad backs in horses. It has proved to be particularly useful in helping to improve the following:
- Reduced performance
- Maintaining mobility in competition horses
- Gait problems: tracking-up/short stride, loss of collection, cross-canter problems,
rushing downhill, pulls uphill, lacks concentration
- Stiffness in different areas of the body
- Stiffness in the older horse
- Reluctance to trot / canter on certain reins
- Preventing bucking between transitions
- Problems with head carriage
- Changes in behaviour: bucking, bolting, rearing, kicking and refusing to jump
- Objection to being saddled or girthed, unable to stand still or relax, hyper-sensitivity to brushing and difficulty shoeing
- Aiding rehabilitation after injury (tendon injuries, ligament overstrains, sacroiliac lesions)
- Aiding rehabilitation in diagnosed conditions such as arthritis, hind leg and front leg lameness
- Uneven muscle bulk, muscle imbalance and spasms
What does an osteopathic treatment involve?
We begin by noting down the initial consultation with a case history: noting any previous injuries, treatments and medications, as well as looking at the lifestyle of the horse and the demands placed upon him/her. We then observe the horse in-hand, at walk and trot and performing a series of turns. Depending on the problem, we may also require the horse to be lunged and/or ridden. We then conduct an osteopathic examination of the horse, assessing all joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. After consultation with the owner, we then commence treatment if appropriate. The techniques we use during treatment consist of:
- Joint articulation
- Soft tissue techniques, such as massage, stretching, lymphatic drainage, reflex and trigger point work
- Joint Manipulation (when necessary)
- Gentle Cranial and Functional work
- Laser Therapy
The techniques we choose to use during the treatment will be tailored specifically for each individual horse according to his/her age and build. We do not treat horses under sedation.
After care for maximising performance
After treating, and if appropriate, advice will be provided on rest, stretches and exercise. Follow-up treatments will then be discussed with the owner. The number of treatments required will depend on your horse’s history as well as what is being treated. The initial consultation will also have a bearing on this decision and the owner will be kept fully informed throughout the whole process.
How will my horse feel after treatment?
Treatments initiate a healing response which triggers changes to occur within the horse’s body and encourage toxins to be released for elimination; this can often be quite a tiring experience for your horse. For this reason I recommend that the horse should not be worked after the treatment for 1-2 days and instead either turned out or grazed in-hand with fresh water available at all times. Then a graduated return to normal activity over the next 5-7 days depending on their diagnosis.
Don’t forget the rider!
Following the discussion and treatment of your horse, the rider may feel that they need a little attention as well. All the requirements of good body alignment, balance and flexibility are also key to smooth and efficient riding. Osteopathy can detect and remedy previously unrecognised areas of restricted movement. This will enable horse and rider to combine as one through shared balance, strength and stamina and they will both maximise their potential in any equestrian discipline.
At the end of the treatment I literally felt like I had a different horse.
Thank you so much for the fantastic treatment you have given my horse Bobby. I had had a nasty fall following a succession of bucking sessions. One of my friends suggested that perhaps Bobby was bucking because he was in pain. When you first saw him you quickly identified where the problem was and his likely presentation in certain circumstances. You gave him three treatments over a period of a few weeks. At the end of the treatment I literally felt like I had a different horse. I called him fantastic elastic because he felt so flexible and willing, and guess what, the bucking had completely stopped. I will keep up regular maintenance treatments because I realise how important it is to keep his pelvis and back supple and flexible. In my opinion your approach is a vital part of keeping my horse happy and going well, thank you.Michelle