How do Horses Move? How Does Injury Affect Horse Movement? What Does Successful Equine Rehabilitation Involve?

by | Jul 28, 2021

In equine locomotion, muscles do not work alone, but in pairs or groups. The better the understanding of muscle function, the more specific your therapeutic session will be.

There is more to movement retraining than only ‘releasing’ muscles: to make permanent changes in brain-body connections, muscle activation must be incorporated into therapeutic sessions.
A thorough understanding of equine anatomy underpins clinical reasoning in the therapist’s decision on where to release, and how to activate!

This manuscript by Elbrønd and Schultz (2021) offers a detailed analysis of the kinetic chains within the equine locomotory system: Chronic dysfunction, for example, due to injury in one part of the kinetic chain will lead to compensatory movement patterns, resulting in eventual pathology.

In equine rehabilitation, the veterinarian, therapist, and other horse health team members all work together to promote healing of the injury. Initially, pain must be addressed: so long as pain is present, the brain will maintain a compensatory movement pattern. Next, the horse must undergo a programme of specific movement retraining, to ensure that compensatory movement mechanisms are replaced by original/optimal movement patterns. This involves both static and dynamic exercises, the latter first from the ground, and later under the rider.

It is important to understand that once pain has resolved, normal movement patterns do not reset automatically. The brain-body connection must be neurologically reprogrammed, to prevent re-injury or further injury.

The RACE-approved Academy of Animal Sport Science curriculum incorporates a series of lectures that focus on functional anatomy, different manual muscle/osseous mobilisation techniques, different types of static and dynamic activation methods, neurology related to injury, and clinical reasoning skills for movement retraining, all of which are essential for success equine rehabilitation!

☞For full information on the RACE-approved fully-online Evidence-Based Equine Rehabilitation course, see – this study is open to everyone who would like to understand all the components of equine rehabilitation!