Rehab Tips for the Horse

rehab tips tnEven with the best plans, sometimes horses find a way to injure themselves. I've found in the aftermath of an emergency, I can't always remember the veterinarians specific instructions.  I keep a clipboard in my medicine cabinet so I can write down exact aftercare instructions.  I also have a white board on my feed room door that shows the days of the week that I use to record what needs to be done that day so I can keep track and not miss a treatment. If you have multiple people caring for the horse, this is an easy way to communicate what has been done and by whom.  The white board also works well when instituting grain changes since they should be done gradually. Here is the white board with the maintenance board underneath. I use the maintenance board for horses that may get weekly injections or treatments. With weekly injections, I record which injection site was used last so I can alternate sites.

For horses on stall rest or during a lengthy rehab such as one that requires progressive loading (tendon or ligament injury, for example), accurate records are crucial.  I plan the rehab schedule on a white board and keep specific notes on what was done on what day in a calendar or daytimer. Having a paper copy of the progress allows you to pinpoint exactly how the rehab is going, since the white board will be erased. When it is time to graduate to the next level of progressive loading, it is easy to check the dry erase board instead of counting back on the calendar.
An example of how this would be done:

Let's say the veterinarian wants me to start working my horse gradually, starting 30 minutes total with 25 minutes being at a walk and 5 minutes at a trot. I am to do this for 5 days and then go up to 35 minutes total, increasing the time trotting by 5 minutes every 5 days.  The plan is to eventually get to riding for 60 minutes total, which is then when I am to introduce the canter.

The white board would show:
30 min total-25 W, 5 T for 5 days
35 min total-25 W, 10 T for 5 days
40 min total-25 W, 15 T for 5 days...etc until I have reached 60 minutes total.  The times would be by the advice of your veterinarian.  The times shown here are for illustrative purposes only.

On my smaller weekly white board, I plan out that weeks riding rehab, including planned days off.  Once I've completed that days rehab, I erase and fill out what I will be doing the following week, so the weekly white board has is a rolling rehab calendar.


Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
30min: 25W 5T 30min: 25W 5T 30min: 25W 5T 30min: 25W 5T 30min: 25W  5T  off 35min: 25W 10T

The following  week would look like this:

Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
35min: 25W 10T 35min: 25W 10T 35min:
25W 10T
off 35min: 25W 10T 40min: 25W 15T 40min:  25W 15T

Another useful item is leg soaker hoses.  Standing with a hose on your horses leg for 20 minutes twice daily can really get boring.  If you have a wash stall with good drainage, leg soaker hoses allow you to hose one or two legs simultaneously without having to stand there.  Obviously, you need to have a horse used to standing quietly in a washrack that tolerates cold hosing.  What I like about the soaker hoses is that they are designed to release quickly from a horses leg if he gets agitated.  I have used these hoses quite a bit and would recommend them to any barn.  It has allowed me to go about my barn chores while a horse is getting hydrotherapy.

The leg soaker hoses can do two legs at once

Or both hoses can work together to hose a single leg
leg soaker hoses

For icing legs, there are a few options available.  After XC, I use the nine pocket ice boots and fill with ice that I've packed in the cooler.  An example of the boots and the neoprene gloves that I use while filling the ice boots is under the Training and Competition tab.

After lessons and jump schools, I like the Ice Horse tendon boots.  The ice cells fit easily into the freezer section of dorm sized refrigerators and the boots are very easy to use.  I fill the inserts into the boots and pack them in a travel sized cooler on lesson days, along with cold drinks and ice.  Be sure to wet your horses legs first before icing them for the best results.

This cooler is the perfect size for 4 Ice Horse tendon boots and a 32 ounce bottle of liquid.

Many magazines will publish medically related "how to" hints, often with full color photos.  Throughout the years, I have saved these articles and filed them in a three ring notebook.  I keep this notebook in the barn by my medical supplies as a reference. Having the articles inside page protectors will allow you to remove the article you need from the binder while keeping it clean.  I have "how to" articles ranging from wrapping hocks to giving IM injections.