A lot of patients are surprised when we say we can treat horses with osteopathy, the first thing they say is do they like it? Horses get exactly the same musculoskeletal issues as a human does, from muscle aches and pains to joint restrictions and limited range of movement.
In order to treat a horse it is a legal requirement to gain veterinary permission prior to treatment, which is in line with the veterinary surgeons order 2015, this is not usually an issue as many vets see the benefit from alternative therapies such as osteopathy.
Horses are extremely sensitive and responsive animals, they can pick up on subtle character changes, fear and nervousness to name a few. They do not however, have the ability to process what these feelings are, all they know is something has changed in a persons behaviour and they need to decide whether this is a threat or not, after all they are flight animals. They respond to treatment extremely well providing the practitioner has a calm, gentle and smooth manner. If this is not the case the horse will not relax into the treatment.
How to know when your horse needs treatment?
Horses unlike humans have a slightly different way of showing their pain, horses cannot come in and tell you they have back pain. They show discomfort in their facial expressions i.e. wrinkled nostrils, worried/triangular shape to their eyes, raising of the corners of their mouth. Another common way a horse expresses discomfort is through behaviour changes, for example trouble tacking them up, unwillingness to bend, bucking, rearing, napping. These are usually the telling signs a horse is in pain.
Treatments are fully dependent on the presenting symptoms and are customised to each individual horse, follow up treatments will continue to work on the presenting symptoms and the associated compensations. These follow up treatments can be anywhere from monthly (usually more suitable for competition horses or horses in heavy work) or every 6 months (horses in lighter work).
It is important as osteopaths we work with the whole of the horses body, this includes working alongside farriers, vets, dentists and saddlers. As part of our treatment home care is a large part of it, we will give appropriate stretches and exercises to continue to improve what we have been working on.
Post treatment reactions are very common, reactions involve yawning, chewing, licking, sleeping, increased thirst and veins becoming prominent for a short period of time, this shows that the horse is becoming relaxed and embracing the new changes. Depending on how long the issue has been there it may not be a one treatment fix and may take a few treatments to fully experience these reactions. Seeing the reactions really is the best part of the job.
If you think this treatment can benefit your horse book in with Martha today