In addition to veterinary health care, your equine athlete can also benefit greatly from complementary therapies. We will provide more information on the advantages of chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage.
Why Consider Complementary Therapies for Horses?
Complementary therapies are used to optimize performance, relieve stress, and correct all manner of physical issues, including those which may not have been able to be resolved through Western medical treatments.
These therapies offer a natural alternative for owners who aren’t yet ready to try or return to pharmaceutical treatments, and they can stimulate the horse’s ability to heal itself of various issues.
Chiropractic corrects postural and spinal issues through the application of rapid force to specific areas of the spine. Application of force to these areas stimulates a healing response and restores the nervous system balance that affects every aspect of equine health.
This complementary therapy is often chosen to maintain the performance of equine athletes, as well as to ensure the comfort of companion horses.
Also known as Veterinary Spinal Manipulative Therapy, or VSMT, chiropractic care can restore function to joints and muscles affected by surgery, scarring, or muscle spasms. In addition to being relieved of pain and performance issues, chiropractic treatments have also resulted in significant positive changes in equine behavior.
It’s important to note that chiropractic should not be considered for horses with fractures or acute injuries or those who are under sedation.
Acupuncture has a history that reaches back over 2000 years. Used for humans and equine athletes alike, acupuncture is provided by therapists registered with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.
This therapy involves the insertion of fine needles into specific acupuncture points on the body for the purpose of stimulating the healing response in corresponding areas.
Acupuncture can be chosen as a stand-alone therapy and is also a vital component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, which incorporates herbal, food, and physical treatments.
This complementary therapy is typically selected for horses experiencing a wide range of conditions, and it is effective in the treatment of dermatologic, reproductive, and gastrointestinal disorders, in addition to neurological and musculoskeletal issues.
Although every equine athlete will respond differently to acupuncture, the general overall response is very positive, with many horses improving after a single treatment. Responses tend to be significantly higher after the second and third treatments, with a 60% and 90% response respectively.
Most patients will tolerate acupuncture so well that they fall asleep during treatment, while others may experience high stress. For these patients, laser acupuncture may be a preferable form of treatment.
Despite its effectiveness for the vast majority of equine athletes, 10% of patients will not respond to acupuncture treatment. However, this doesn’t indicate that other complementary therapies will be ineffective.
Equine massage therapy, available in several types, is another complementary therapy for horses that can offer benefits to the equine athlete. Firm pressure on the muscles and connective tissue helps to encourage the flow of blood and oxygen delivery to needed areas and initiates lymphatic drainage.
Basic massage is typically applied following warming-up exercises and involves various techniques. Trigger-point therapy focuses on sensitive areas of soft tissue. The application of pressure to muscle knots relaxes this tissue. Myofascial release or MFR addresses areas of fascia that are restricted and aims to manipulate and stretch these areas to restore mobility and range of motion.
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) helps to relieve edema or fluid accumulation in the body, which can have many causes. A massage therapist applying MLD will use massage techniques that encourage circulation and mobilize fluid movement to lymphatic vessels for clearing.
Whole-Body Vibration (WBV)
Whole-body vibration or WBV is a form of massage therapy that involves standing a horse on a large platform that delivers vibrations at varying intensities and frequencies, as determined by the user.
WBV’s roots reach back more than 100 years and began with a doctor’s belief in the benefits of vibration to overall health. Later human studies would reveal that whole-body vibration holds a host of benefits, including joint pain reduction, increased muscle mass, and reduced back pain.
WBV treatment sessions are typically applied in 30-minute segments once or twice per day.
Most horses react favorably to WBV units, but some may require slow training to get used to the plate and its vibrations.
Should a horse have existing issues such as fractures, or arthroscopy surgery, recovery should be completed and the horse cleared prior to using WBV, as well as all other complementary therapies.
What Complementary Therapies Can Be Applied at Home?
While equine athletes can travel to a clinic or training center to receive treatment, certain therapies like massage, light therapy, and whole-body vibration are available to individual owners wishing to optimize the health and performance of their equine athletes and companion horses at home.
Massaging your horse at home is something you can do manually or automatically. Basic manual massage can be ideal both before and after exercise to benefit muscle flexibility, blood flow, and movement of lactic acid out of the muscles.
Of course, when massaging your equine athlete, care should be taken. If your horse is skittish about manual massage, it’s best to begin slowly so that they can become accustomed to it.
A horse massage roller like Vitafloor’s Q-Line can be a great way to give your horse several health benefits automatically at home; just fasten the roller around your horse’s midsection, activate, and your horse’s withers and back muscles will receive four phases of massage.
Infrared (IR) Light Therapy
Infrared light therapy offers both equine athletes and companion horses several health benefits. Not only does IR light help to heal skin infections and wounds, but it also gives your horse’s skin health a boost as it stimulates circulation and improves muscle elasticity.
IR light is also a great way to relieve sore muscles through the dissipation of lactic acid. In addition, infrared light also helps with the healing of bruises and fractures, and it relieves arthritis pain. Q-Line solariums offer 40% more output than any others on the market, offering your horse the most powerful light therapy available.
A treadmill is ideal for both equine athletes and horses who are recovering from injury. This complementary therapy allows your horse to receive low- or higher-impact exercise under full supervision. Vitafloor’s Q-Line treadmill offers incline adjustment and closing bar safety release for a stress-free experience.
Horse exercisers make training and conditioning equine athletes and companion horses possible in any circumstance. These tools, available in indoor and outdoor models, keep horses moving for warm-up exercise and assist with the reduction of muscle stiffness and normalization of vital signs after exercise.
Vitafloor’s horse exercisers have been designed to offer your equine athlete safety and comfort as they move. The indoor Flexerciser allows your horse to train at up to 15 mph and keeps the guiding system at a safe three meters above ground level.
The Professional Type HE and ceiling-mounted exercisers offer full control over exercise routines. They are available in diameters ranging between 50 and 72 feet and can accommodate between three and eight horses. The LBE exerciser, with diameters from 40-50 feet, can accommodate four horses with ease.
When applied to horses, whole-body vibration therapy has shown to benefit the development of back muscles, significantly increase hoof growth, heal ligaments and tendons, and offer stress and pain relief as it eliminates excess fat.
Whole-body vibration therapy can offer your horse the benefits of several complementary therapies in a single unit. This revolutionary technology has resulted in significant improvement in circulation not only in the legs, but also in the organs and upper bodies of horses.
The effects of WBV have assisted in the prevention of colic, and it has proven to be a valuable tool, both in the maintenance of equine health and recovery from illness and injury, as it safely exercises your horse without the need for movement.
Professional-Quality Products for Every Owner
There’s no doubt that whole-body vibration and other complementary therapies keep horses healthy and stress-free.
Vitafloor heavily studied, researched, and invented whole-body vibration for equine athletes. The result was the creation of our vibrating floor systems.
Endorsed by veterinary medicine, trainers, and breeders worldwide, our range of equine solariums, massagers, exercisers, vibration therapy, and other products are meticulously crafted. Every detail receives strict attention for the highest benefit to your horse and the best value for you.
Vitafloor is dedicated to helping you get and keep your equestrian athlete or companion horse healthy and in shape for life! Look through our site to discover why we’re the superior choice for equine products; browse our collections today.