PHD Veterinary Service

PHD Veterinary Service
PHD Veterinary Service

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Dr. Porter @ 352-258-3571

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Rehabilitation of horses through controlled swimming!!

The images below were taken at The Sanctuary Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Center in Ocala Florida. The horse that is entering the water and swimming across the equine swimming pool is in the process of being rehabilitated for a ligament injury. This horse has already under gone 8 weeks of strict stall confinement and several doses of extra-corporeal shockwave treatment for his injury. Horses that have spent extensive time in stall confinement are at risk of re-injury or a new injury once they are returned to work. This is because the are out of condition yet willing to run, buck, jump, and generally misbehave!! Unfortunately, most horses lack a good sense of self preservation!! 

 Depending on the type of injury, low-impact exercise is advantageous for rehabilitating horses after a lengthy confinement. Unfortunately, due to their significant weight and relatively small cross-sectional area of their hooves, horses tend to stress their musculoskeletal structure even at the walk. In addition, many can be fractious and unsafe to handle and/or ride after an extensive period of confinement. As such, swimming provides an excellent form of exercise that is very low-impact and safe. Fortunately, most horses enjoy swimming and are quick learners!!

My recommendation for horses returning from a lengthy period of stall confinement includes 30 days of swimming for 20 minutes, 4-6 days per week. In addition, the horse will be hand-walked for 10-20 minutes per day. The remainder of time the horse remains in stall confinement. In my opinion, this is far superior to simply turning the horse out in a small paddock for 30 days.

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