Our team at WEC boasts three board-certified veterinarians who are specialty trained in equine rehabilitation, as well as visiting specialists during the season. We will work both with you and your veterinarian to tailor a program that helps to get your horse back into the ring faster, stronger, and minimize the risk of injury. We have a wide range of modalities and tools that can be used either in hospital or at your horse’s stall.
The UF Veterinary Hospital at WEC has two water treadmills with cold or warm salt water therapies available for conditioning or rehabilitating your horse. Exercise in water has been shown to increase joint mobility in horses’ limbs and back, improve muscle strength and control, and increase aerobic capacity, all while decreasing impact. Use of cold water results in vasoconstriction reducing inflammation and blood flow, as well as reducing fatigue. Warm water causes vasodilation, which also helps reduce inflammation, but increases blood flow and warms tissue to allow for increased elasticity of muscles and joints, and activates the parasympathetic or “relax mode”. Water temperature and water height will be tailored to your horse’s need and goals.
What can aquatread therapy be used for in my horse?
These treadmills are very useful as part of your horse’s regular training schedule, they can add fitness, while limiting the impact on the soft tissues, bones, and joints. Horses really enjoy the novelty of the experience and breaking up of their weekly routine and the salt water can be beneficial for their skin.
They are also very useful in the rehabilitation of a wide range of injuries, from suspensory branch and proximal suspensory desmitis, tendon injuries, stifle injuries, even conditions such as hock osteoarthritis.
Because we can vary the depth and speed, the water treadmill can serve multiple purposes as your horse progresses through their rehabilitation program.
Vibrating Floor Therapy (TheraPlate)
Theraplate, also known as a vibration therapy, creates horizontal and vertical oscillations stimulating continuous small muscle contractions mimicking the natural movement of the horse. These muscle contractions improve cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation resulting in increased oxygenation to tissues and removal of metabolic waste. Vibration therapy promotes joint stability and improves neurologic function (balance and coordination) in the symptomatic horse. Core strengthening exercises can be combined with vibration therapy resulting in improved musculoskeletal and neurologic function. Additionally, vibration therapy has been shown to decrease stress hormones such as cortisol, and, in people, promote an overall sense of well-being.
When can I use vibration therapy in my horse?
As with the water treadmills and solarium, vibration therapy can be used either as part of your horse’s normal training routine or as part of rehabilitation program for a specific injury. It is useful in regaining strength in a horse that is just starting back into work after injury.
Solarium therapy is infrared light therapy which is different from ultraviolet radiation (sunlight). Infrared therapy increases temperature and blood flow specifically to the back allowing for relaxation of tight muscles. This therapy also stimulates blood flow leading to improved oxygenation of tissue, increased tissue metabolism, and removal of metabolic toxins, such as lactic acid.
Infrared light therapy, similar to vibration therapy, has been shown to decrease stress and induce a relaxed state through increases in serotonin and decreases in cortisol levels. In people, infrared light therapy has been shown to improve muscle recovery, prevent muscle injury, and improve muscle development.
When can I use solarium therapy in my horse?
Infrared light therapy can be used as part of your horse’s normal training routine or as part of a rehabilitation program, especially for horses that are prone to developing exertional rhabdomyolysis aka “tying-up” or that have muscle injuries or conditions.
Halotherapy, also known as dry salt therapy, is derived from the age-old practice of dry salt cave therapy. It involves the aerosolization of high quality finely ground salt particles into a specially built low humidity-controlled room. While a new therapy in veterinary medicine, scientific evidence is limited to reports in people. Early reports in horses have claimed a myriad of benefits for conditions as including COPD, equine asthma, sinusitis, scratches, and bacterial and fungal skin infections. For treatment, the horse simply stands in the halogenated room for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times per week.
What can salt therapy be used for in my horse?
Respiratory conditions such as equine asthma, allergies, exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (“bleeders”) and other airway conditions.
Halotherapy may also be used to treat skin conditions such as “scratches”, “sweet itch”, dermatophilosis, and other bacterial and fungal skin infections.