Human Health Innovations Can Be Used To Keep Horses Sound

Tendon injuries in horses can be difficult to rehabilitate, and should include monitoring of pain, heavy and slow loading, and progressive resistance. Equine veterinarians are turning to human medicine to offer horses additional tendon-healing strategies, which Dr. Seth O’Neill, PhD, MSc, PGCE, HE, MCSP, MMACP, of the University of Leicester’s College of Life Sciences, discussed at the 2018 British Equine Veterinary Association Congress, in the U.K., reports The Horse.

A human doctor, O’Neill reported that tendon injuries in humans are caused from an imbalance of wear and tear. Though exercise causes tendons to become more resilient, the changes that result from exercise can cause the potential for catastrophic failure, the same as in equines.

Just as in humans, repetitive training in horses without adequate rest can least to degradation of the tendon. Risk factors include previous injury, too much training, poor training surface, foot wear and muscle weakness. In humans, O’Neill explained that a GPS monitor can be used to assess loading and other variables. He feels that they may be as helpful in equine training as it is in human training.

O’Neill also suggested owners not completely rest a horse that has had a tendon strain, but focusing instead on strength training, which allows for stronger muscles surrounding the tendon and therefore less strain on the tendon itself. Complete rest is harmful as it causes the tendon to waste.

Exercises he suggests for strengthening equine muscles includes hill work and steps, working up to longer duration over the course of three to six months. O’Neill does not encourage rubbing, icing, NSAIDS or stretching. The tendon itself actually needs to be stiff, so stretching is not helpful; and ice actually slows down the tendon’s response to exercise, but if helpful for immediate recovery.

Read more at The Horse.

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