Featured Health, Wellness, & Nutrition

Complementary Care Serves to Compliment the Horse

More than ever before, horse owners have ample opportunity to promote longevity and quality of life of their equine companion and/or performance horse. From equine massage to chiropractic care and therapeutic shoeing to specialized services, horse owners are blessed with an abundance of options to choose from, or partner together for a whole-horse wellness strategy.

We used to live in a world where “general lameness,” or even recovery from surgery, was given a prescription of stall rest and bute, but those days have gone the way of the wild west with the rise complementary care.

Today, equine massage therapists and chiropractors work closely with one another, as well as with the veterinarian in some cases, to put forth targeted treatment plans carefully designed with the individual in mind.

As a certified equine massage therapist, a couple of my recent case studies prove the importance of these relationships:

HORSE A: Diagnosed by a Veterinarian with a torn suspensory ligament that ultimately underwent surgery to repair.

Following surgery and shockwave therapy as well as a 4-week waiting period as recommended by the Veterinarian, I then began my targeted treatment plan with the goal of reducing inflammation and speeding overall recovery time. The modalities used included Cold Laser Therapy, Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field (PEMF), and Kinesio-taping. Immediately, the owner noticed a reduction of swelling at the surgery site. Weekly treatments were administered and at the horse’s post-surgery check-up, the Veterinarian noted that this horse was one of two worst cases of this type of tear he had ever seen and that his healing was much better than expected. The Veterinarian suggested to keep up with the therapy program, because it is working.

HORSE B: Horse suffered a hematoma at the stifle, an injury caused by a kick from a pasture-mate. Immediately upon injury the horse-owner contacted the veterinarian and then myself. I advised client to utilize cold therapy and ice the injury for 20 minutes or until vet arrives. After Veterinary examination and follow-up, an x-ray and ultra-sound revealed torn ligaments, requiring surgery. Just prior to the long haul for surgery, I treated with therapeutic massage (avoiding area of swelling) and applied Cold Laser therapy to the injured area. Post-surgery the Veterinarian recommended continuing with Cold Laser treatments on a weekly basis to control inflammation. The owner also opted for PEMF and

Kinesio-taping. At the horse’s first check-up the Veterinarian was extremely surprised at how good his stifle looked, stating it was healing better than she had ever expected. Initially she thought there may be permanent damage or a build-up of scar tissue. At his final check-up the Veterinarian stated he was at least 2 weeks ahead of schedule in the healing process and noted the lack of residual scar tissue. The horse was able to go back to work earlier than first estimated.

Along with equine health profess ionals, these case studies exhibit that horse owners too have become increasingly empowered in their own education and decision-making regarding the health care of their horses, researching innovative, but proven ways for faster recovery.

Advancements in integrative therapy options have made amazing strides in speeding that recovery time, and the science proves it. Maybe even more important than the advancements though, is the quiet acceptance of complementary care with an east meets west integration of medicines and ideals. That acceptance, and the resulting partnership between, will only serve to benefit the horse and their owner.

Valerie Pierzina, CESMT


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