HOW DO SPORTS THERAPIES HELP/ does it really work?
To understand that Sports therapy can help your horse in numerous ways and on many levels takes some understanding of the basics within the bodily systems that are influenced by the techniques I use, and have been widely used for years within hospitals and sports therapy centres for human athletes. Horses are used as athletes whether they are competed, raced or just hacked out.
The main body structures that are influenced and affected by sports therapies include:
Muscular system :
Relieving tension, spasm, pain and helping the breakdown of adhesions, scarring and torn muscles Lymphatic system This is the body's defence system for fighting infection and clearing debris, it is a slow moving system and relies on movement to work, hence box rest, injuries and trauma will inhibit this system. Physical therapy will assist the lymphatic flow.
Carries nutrients around the body delivering nutrients and oxygenated blood to tissues and taking waste and debris to the waste disposal systems (kidneys etc) Decreased muscle activity results in a decreased flow of venous return. Again physical therapy will help with venous return.
Controls every bodily function and describes the communication between the brain, nerves and the spinal cord. Sensory Nerve endings are influenced by massage and the communication is influenced by Thwe Bowen technique.
This is a connective tissue running throughout the whole body. If you imagine the body without its bones, nerves, organs you would be left with the fascia that runs from head to feet without interruption. As you can see the systems are all interlinked one working with and affecting another. The main thing to remember is injury, trauma, badly fitting tack and equipment wrongly used can have an effect throughout the WHOLE body, effecting fascia and the bodily systems then having a knock on effect on the body's memory movement pattern.
Physical therapy will help with and assist the body's recovery from muscular fatigue, pain, soreness and incorrect way of going and as a preventative measure.
YOUR HORSES POSTURE
Correct posture is vital for the ridden horse to protect the vertebral column, the ligaments and the horses back and musculature, therefore important for reducing the risk of back problems and increasing the performance of the horse.
Most people know of the core stability in people and its importance, the horse is no different. We put a saddle and girth around major organs and sit above the vertebral column. The ridden horse needs to be able to engage the abdominals to round through the back and to also build the musculature to carry a rider correctly.
A young horse that is rushed into a more advanced outline by force or incorrect riding will most certainly suffer, creating pressure and strains throughout the body. The same applies to horses that are unfit, overweight or recovering from injury/trauma.
To discuss your horses problems please call to book a visit. I could go into so much detail here regarding the different disciplines from dressage to racing but this is better explained on a visit when I can see the horse in front of me.
Simple stable management choices can affect your horse and can be advised during a visit along with saddle fit, foot balance, level of fitness and all other areas that influence your horses way of going.
Points to remember:
- If the horse carries his head and neck high the back cannot engage behind - important in dressage / eventing / show jumping / hacking.
- If the horse is forced with equipment into a false outline ( not working from behind but nose tucked into chest) there will be damage to the horses structures
- Correct posture is influenced by MANY things; riding , stable management, conformation, injury - we can only educate ourselves and work with what we have to achieve our goals
- Weak back muscles and carrying a rider = spinal posture weakened
- Tight back and neck muscles can make the horse move stiffly and leads to vertebrae misalignments - seek muscular therapy for the route cause to be addressed
- Conformational restrictions can influence things
- Loss of muscle tone will effect posture Correct training methods
- Work long and low to strengthen and engage the powerhouse building slowly over time
- If working at advanced always work long and low regularly when schooling and warming up and to allow the muscles to relax
- Restraining the head and neck does NOT allow the back and abdominal muscles to be recruited
- long rein regularly not just when backing
The position of your horses head and neck directly influences his way of going.