When your horse sustains an injury of any severity, it is vital to ensure they have been properly rehabilitated. Like an athlete in any sport, putting excess pressure and strain on weakened muscles, tendons, and ligaments can result in irreparable damage. And for a horse, this is certainly not good news.
Equestrian sports – racing, dressage, polo, show jumping and everything in between – can put huge strain on a horse. This is why it is so important to properly warm up and cool down. However, if the worst does happen; you need to know how to rehabilitate your horse. Here is some sound advice to help get him back up on all fours, in a safe and comprehensive way:
Assess the Damage
Surface wounds should be flushed clean with water to remove any gravel, and to clean the injury. You should never apply cream to open wounds unless it has been examined by at vet. You may end up causing more damage, and pain, to the horse.
Just like when we injure ourselves, the smallest of wounds should never be underestimated. It is often the unseen damage and injuries to tendons, joints, and muscles that require the most attention. Small wounds – especially those near joints – should be examined by a vet immediately. Punctures to joint capsules can be a fatal injury. Wounds of any kind should always be examined by a professional, and their advice always followed closely. The period of recovery will vary on the type of wound, damage sustained, age of the horse, and a whole host of other factors.
Period of Recovery
There are however, a number of things you can do to help shorten the period of recovery. Firstly, you should ensure that wounds are kept clean, and dressings – where used – are changed regularly. Owners should also ensure that the horse’s vaccinations are up-to-date. When the injury is first sustained, vets will take responsibility for administering painkillers and changing dressings. As the horse stabilises however, the task of caring for him is passed onto you. Therefore you should make sure you fully understand how to care for him.
Gentle, controlled exercise is perhaps the best way to recover from an injury. It prevents the joints and muscles from seizing up, and can help us regain fill use of them. The same goes for your injured horse. As long as the exercise is gentle and carefully controlled, your horse can recover quickly. Depending on the severity of the injury, it is advisable to begin with in-hand walking. Start with only a few minutes a day, gradually increasing the frequency and length of the walks over a month or so. As the injury heals, you should slowly introduce other activities until the horse is fully recovered.
Some Top Tips
Here are a number of final pointers, and top tips to help rehabilitate your horse after sustaining an injury:
• Equine Hydrotherapy – The benefits of hydrotherapy for an injured horse is a great way to ease them back into exercise. The water takes a lot of the horses’ weight, and helps them regain full muscle and joint use with reduced pain and intensity.
• Equine Treadmills – Equine treadmills are great for rehabilitation as they take a lot of the strain off the horse. This means that they can speed up their recovery while continuing to exercise, without causing further damage.
You should always allow your horse time to recover from any injury. Like you would rest your own injury, you can help deduce further damage and speed up recovery time. Safe rehabilitation of your horse can see him back on his feet in now time.
Written By Clare Evans. This guest post has been supplied on behalf of https://www.jonjooneillracing.com/. Jonjo is one of the UKs leading jockeys-turned-trainers, and boasts some of the best equine training facilities in the country.