Just like human athletes, performance horses have a high risk of acute and repetitive strain injuries. And just like people, injured horses benefit from physical therapy and rehabilitation. Animal medicine is an evolving science, but technological advancements in equine exercise equipment have vastly improved physical therapy and rehabilitation for horses.
Many horses need rehabilitation after a period of rest following an injury. Inactivity can cause a horse’s muscles, cartilage, ligaments, and other tissues to atrophy. It can also reduce range of motion in the joints and muscles.
The goals of equine physical rehabilitation are to:
- Assist with injury healing
- Hasten surgical recovery
- Improve mobility
- Address signs of illness
- Maintain health through strength training
Whether you’re building a commercial equine rehab center or a private facility for your team of competition horses, you’ll need certain equipment for a successful operation. We’ve outlined 6 essential items below.
Vibration therapy has been successful in treating different types of horse injuries. Vibration plates provide whole-body therapy that can boost back muscle development, improve circulation, speed healing after an injury, and reduce risks of future injuries.
Vibration therapy has an added benefit: In most cases it can be used in the very early stages of an injury, whereas treadmills and equine exercisers may put too much strain on the animal. Equine physical therapists typically reserve more strenuous equipment for later in the rehabilitation process when the horse is further along in its healing.
Vibration plates are essential for any equine rehabilitation operation. Vitafloor USA, Inc. is a leader in horse vibration plate technology—our product is used by equestrians around the world.
Horse treadmills can significantly improve equine endurance and help get your horse back into performance shape. Treadmills strengthen muscles and improve respiratory capacity. They are particularly helpful when you need to record a horse’s vital signs, as the animal is in a stationary position on the treadmill. Since horse treadmills are equipped with suspension plates or rollers, the force of impact is much lower than on asphalt or other hard surfaces. This can help preserve healthy joints and muscles. Equine treadmills are ideal for exercising horses indoors during inclement weather, including snow and thunderstorms.
A horse solarium uses an array of infrared (IF) lamps, which emit a form of heat radiation. Some solariums are also equipped with ultraviolet (UV) lamps, which provide a source of artificial sunlight for stable-kept horses.
Infrared rays are capable of penetrating deep into the body, activating major bodily functions. As the surface temperature of the horse rises, the capillaries expand, which stimulates blood flow. This helps move nutrients and oxygen-rich blood around the body, promoting the regeneration of injured tissues. Horse solariums have many benefits; they can:
- Soothe sore, stiff muscles
- Stimulate metabolism and improve digestion
- Eliminate toxins (lactic acid) from muscle tissue
- Improve muscle elasticity for better performance
- Strengthen the immune system by stimulating production of white blood cells
- Calm restless or nervous horses
Solarium therapy is suitable for all horses, from performance animals to light workers to retired equines.
Therapeutic Ultrasound Equipment
Ultrasound therapy is useful for healing acute equine injuries without triggering the inflammatory response. It works by sending sound waves through bodily tissues, which can produce both heating and nonheating effects (each useful in its own way). Ultrasound therapy can help heal deep muscles, ligaments, and fascia, and it can increase blood circulation when applied to wounds, damaged muscles, and tendons. Better circulation can speed healing and recovery after injury.
Equine exercisers are an essential conditioning tool for walking, jogging, and galloping horses. They work by encouraging forward movement. Equestrian exercisers aid in training and recovery and have replaced the need for hand walking. Some models offer variable speeds and the ability to change direction, and some treat multiple horses simultaneously.
Horse Water Walker
A horse water walker is similar to an equestrian exerciser, except the lower part of the walking track is filled with water. Water creates resistance, which helps build muscles and improve strength. The water is only a few feet deep, so the horse can remain in contact with the ground. The horse can be allowed to move around freely in the water walker, connected to an automated exerciser, or led by an equine physical therapist.
Choose Quality Products for Your Equine Rehab Facility
Vitafloor USA, Inc. specializes in industry-leading horse equipment. Find top-of-the-line horse exercisers, horse vibration plates, saddle pads, and other equine exercise equipment and horse accessories designed to keep your horses competitive, fit, and healthy. Browse our online shop to see our complete line of quality products.