What is Equine Osteopath?
Equine Osteopathy is a drug free, manual therapy that aims to improve the mobility and function of the horse’s skeleton, muscles, ligaments, joints and organs, – collectively known as the musculoskeletal system. It is a holistic approach involving an understanding of the problem and it’s causes. The origins of equine osteopathy are derived from the osteopathic techniques used to treat a human. These treatments, when combined with an in-depth understanding of the complexity of the body – its links/pathways, arteries and nerves, which should have a “free flow” of nutrition and oxygen to the tissues. The Equine Osteopath’s in depth knowledge enables him/her to diagnose problems, be they imbalances or restrictions that influence the correct functioning of the joints, muscles, ligaments, spine and organs.
How to Know if Your Horse’s Back is Sore
There are a number of symptoms that will assist you in determining if your horse’s back is sore, and they all relate to observation, knowledge of the animal and a knowledge of the animal’s character/personality. This may seem a little simplistic but to the untrained eye generalities must be observed in the first instance.
Understanding your horse will enable you to observe the following:
If your horse is acting a little irritable and uncooperative (sidesteps out from under you when you try to mount, snaps at you if you drag your fingers with pressure along the sides of the spine, refuses to take a saddle and generally shuffles along in a sluggish manor, these are all things to note.
If your horse is not moving freely, has a reduced level of performance, has a problem with gait (locomotion), bucks or rears or refuses to take even low jumps, you should note this change in performance. Should you find symptoms difficult to determine, you may need to have a fellow rider mount your horse to allow you to make observations by standing aside.
Your horse may become awkward or tetchy during grooming, (uneasy when being brushed), or refuse to back up. Your horse may express irritation and be unwilling to cooperate when you try to place a saddle – if so, these signs should also be noted.
When Should I Contact an Osteopath?
You should always consult your veterinary surgeon and request an accurate diagnosis before having your horse treated by any other practitioner. It is an offence for anyone to treat an animal without referral from a veterinary surgeon. Your veterinary surgeon must confirm in writing, (Veterinary Consent Form) that the treatment by an Osteopath is required.
The treatments undertaken by the Osteopath should be considered as being complementary to that of a veterinary surgeon and/or dentist. This type of complementary treatment can often prove more effective.
Your horse should be looked at by your veterinary surgeon two to four times a year. Do not wait for a problem to become obvious before taking action. Should you consider your horse is showing signs of discomfort, you should request that your veterinarian diagnose the problem.
The osteopath looks for symptoms of discomfort or changes in your horse’s pattern of behaviour. The following can be addressed by your Equine Osteopath:
- Reduced Performance
- Back or Spinal Problems
- Ligament and Tendon Injury
- Spinal and Other Joint Dysfunction
- Gait Problems
- Halting and Loss of Collection
- Short Strides
- Lacking Focus and Concentration
- Scoliosis Patterns
- Vertebral Lesions and Sacral Imbalance
- Bridle Sensitivity
- Sensitivity to Brushing or Saddling
- Difficulty with Shoeing
- Problems with Head Carriage, or Head Tossing
- Tracking up, Cross-canter Problems, Pulling Uphill or Rushing Downhill
- Stiffness in Particular Areas and Stiffness in Older Horses
- Maintaining Mobility in Competition Horses
- Problems with Gait
- Reluctance to Trot or Canter
- Bucking, Bolting, Rearing, Kicking, or Refusing to Jump
- Back Disorder
- Injuries Resulting from Falls During Training
- Tendon Injury, or Ligament Overstrain
- Reducing Stress on the Muscles and Joints
- Uneven Muscle Tone and Muscle Bulk
- Muscle Imbalances and Spasm
How Long Does a Treatment Take?
The time treatment takes depends on the individual horse, his or her injuries, age and level of activity. The initial examination’s duration cannot be set at the onset due to the variation in the extent of observations that may be required to assess performance, for example, it may be necessary to take some time to assess the extent of mobility, (walking, trotting and manoeuvring). Time should be given by the owner for a consultation session with the Osteopath.
It must be understood that all horses are individuals in the same way that people are. The number of treatment sessions required will be dependent upon the Osteopath’s findings at the initial examination. The extent of the injury will dictate the injury’s location, age of the injury and its extent, for example the injury may be back related, in which case it could well require 3 to 4 treatments over several weeks followed by periodic check-ups. Less severe injuries may be as straightforward as determining the problem, treating it immediately and suggesting an exercise, resting/recuperating period, (with no further treatment would be required). In the latter cases only a treatment period of 20 – 40 minutes may suffice. Periodic follow-up check-ups may be suggested but this will again be discussed with the owner. It should be understood that an Osteopath will not wish to carry out unnecessary “treatment” particularly as over treatment may cause distress without achieving any further benefit.
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"I am so grateful for the work he has done"
I would recommend David Powers for anyone who has a horses of their own. He has always done such a great job with my mare, who can be rather problematic with men. He’s very calm but thorough at his job. For me the results of his work are instant. Would and have recommend him to everyone who’s thinking of getting an osteopath, and I could imagine he is just as great with people. Am so grateful to the work he has done with my mare.
"David clicked with him straight away"
So never having written a testimonial before not exactly sure what to say. I have known David Powers for about 3 years he has helped me with two very different horses. I have been a BHSAI for about 10 years now and standing in an arena for long days and cold nights has made my posture slightly different from what god intended, which in turn affected the horse I ride. Both horses were treated by David to the high standard I have come to expect from him and my current horse Mighty loves to see David appear on the yard because he knows he is here to help. I have used other osteopaths before but that personal touch that the horses really respond to was missing. After watching David fix the horses on our yard I decided to bite the bullet and get my back fixed. After 8-9 years of “looking like the chalk body at a murder scene” every time I sat. The relief of being able to sit straighter and actually stretch without having to reposition or sit on the higher chair so I could stand up again was unbelievable!!!!!!!!! I’m sure a lot of people will read this and pass it off as I do “as a load of waffle” but I was asked for honesty when asked to write this so that’s what I have done. I would recommend David to anyone who has a horse who’s just not right behind/in front/ under the saddle as my horse reo was a big challenge to many people but David clicked with him straight away and he never looked back.
"I would definitely recommend David to others"
I was recommended to David for my horse, who had stiffness in one of his hind legs. It wasn’t until I was talking to him whilst he was treating my horse that I realised he treated people too, and after a conversation about how he would approach treating me I decided to try him for my back problems too. As a result of David’s treatments and approach I have a much better understanding of the things I need to do to improve my horse’s flexibility and help reduce stiffness. The same applies to my own body, and I am now much clearer about why I suffer certain issues and how I can either prevent or try to manage or reduce them. David is always very prompt (important when you are busy!) and his holistic approach means we deal with the symptoms and the underlying problems. After treatments with David, my horse moves more freely, and I always feel more flexible and supple after my treatments too. David inspires me to do more myself to prevent and manage my anatomical health and well-being. I would definitely recommend David to others. His positive and proactive approach and his encouragement to work in partnership with him mean I have been able to reduce the frequency of my osteopathic treatments. I have also seen real improvements in my horse’s flexibility and comfort as a result of David’s work.
"I'd recommend his service to anyone"
David has been seeing my young horse since he first arrived with me just over a year ago. My youngster was only just backed and the insight provided by David into his particular imbalances and stiffness has been extremely helpful in getting a suitable work programme together for him. Dino seems to enjoy his treatments and he usually moves much more freely afterwards. I feel like David provides a really valuable extra level of knowledge about what’s going on inside Dino that we wouldn’t otherwise have and I’d recommend his service to anyone.