the HORSEBACK VET
Assessment and Mobilisation
Before anything else is done we discuss any relevant aspects of the horse's previous veterinary history and list any issues about the horse's work or movement that are causing concern.
Sometimes there will be a known incident which appears to have led to problems; alternatively there may be no known reasons for changes in the horse's movement and/or behaviour.
The horse's major muscle groups are palpated from head to hindquarters to establish:
. muscular tone
. muscular development
. reactivity and/or discomfort
In some cases other measurements may be taken (e.g. back profiling).
The horse is observed standing, then moving in-hand in both walk and trot, and on a tight circle. The way that horses move gives an enormous amount of information as to areas of discomfort and parts of the body that are not functioning as they should. Asymmetrical or restricted movements of the musculoskeletal system help with building a picture of what is going on.
Objective Gait Analysis
Having performed a 2017 kinematic pilot study into the changes in skeletal movement pre- and post-mobilisation, we are increasingly involved in projects utilising objective movement analysis techniques. Computerised measurements are helping to advance scientific understanding of both natural and compromised equine skeletal movement.
Mobilisations are employed to address areas where the body is not moving appropriately. Affected horses may have a single site of abnormal posture/movement, or may have multiple areas of concern. The great majority of mobilisations, even when there are multiple issues, are performed without sedation; most horses will stand quite happily during the process, which is respectful to the animal.
Following mobilisation the horse is seen moving again in order to establish the results of any work performed, and the post-appointment aftercare is discussed with the horse's owner.Frequently a single session will be sufficient - with the right aftercare - to allow the horse to return to normal levels of work, however specifically strengthening muscles around areas of dysfunction is generally critical to avoid similar problems recurring.
Management plans, including any follow-up exercises, rehabilitation and strengthening work are devised and discussed.
In some cases ongoing monitoring of horses' movement may be arranged by video.