Harvey Taylor is a 28 year old, 16.1hh horse who was struggling with holding up his hind legs for the farrier. He has shiver in his hind legs and also has narcolepsy which can cause him to stagger at any time. He recently had an allergic reaction causing him to lose a lot of weight and his fur to fall out. Because of these mix of problems he was becoming very stiff, dragging his hind toes and struggled to weight bear on the left hind long enough to pick his feet out.
Despite this Harvey still had a zest for life and a home for life with a friend called Sparky – a feisty pony with attitude. His owner, Glenn, has had him for 20 years and wanted to see if there were any exercises he could do to help Harvey’s joint stiffness and therefore make him safer for the farrier.
Harvey’s ageing problems were not going to be cured but like any elderly animal it was possible to improve his balance and therefore his quality of life. He could be shod and trimmed more safely and his ability to turn and move around the field could be improved.
He had antibiotics and Piriton as well as Malaseb baths to cure his allergy which has not returned in over 12 months. He is back to a normal weight and his fur has also grown back.
I first went to see Harvey in March 2010 and found some range of movement problems and muscle spasm alongside his balance issues. These were treated and Glenn was taught a set of home exercises to do on a daily basis to start. I reviewed Harvey 3 weeks later and found he had better balance and was more active in his walk and trot. The exercises were progressed and I see Harvey every 6 months to check for any degeneration in muscle or movement and treat accordingly. He has regular exercises to do and is now much more balanced on turns and can be quite spritely to handle these days!
The cost of this treatment is just over £120 per year and this includes the travel costs of £40.
Harvey’s owner says ‘the physio assessment and treatment has made a big difference to mine and Harvey’s confidence. He is safer to shoe and pick his feet out, can turn more easily and has built up muscle on his quarters once again. The exercises were hard work at first but are now getting easier and we don’t have to do them as often to maintain him. He actually gallops across the field now – it’s great to see.’
Henry is a 7 year old Arab cross gelding with a bright and excitable personality. Despite this he has had intermittent lameness problems for the last 2 years which took a long time to diagnose due to the inconsistent nature of them. A team which involved vet, saddler, physiotherapist, farrier and trainer finally diagnosed diabetes which had resulted in laminitis and founder in his left fore. At one point it was touch and go for Henry.
Throughout this time Henry received physiotherapy sometimes weekly and sometimes monthly as he needed. The physio involved muscle and joint treatment using manual therapies such as myofascial release and massage and electrotherapy in the form of laser. The physio was both remedial and curative depending on Henry’s muscle and lameness status.
Henry has been featured in Your Horse (June 2011) as his case took a considerable time to diagnose due to the inconsistent nature of the problems. His rehabilitation is also taking a long time and has needed a multidisciplinary team approach where the vet, farrier, saddler and myself the physio have kept in close contact and discussed problems and solutions as they arose. The owner, Nicki, has been closely involved throughout and her interest in helping to find the solutions has been critical to the process which has not been a smooth ride and quite emotional. Nicki has sought key information from qualified nutritionists to try and manage Henry’s sugar levels using diet only – still a work in progress.
Henry’s case is unusual and has been a costly process. The physio fees have come to around £600 per year in total and I am likely to see Henry every 3 months for a year even after he is declared fit.
Below is a picture of Henry greeting his friend AZ (who I also treat) in April 2011. A rather stunning pair of Arab horses and I think they know it!