Treatments such as lasers and magnetics are helping keep horses at their best.
In many facets of life, whether be it cars or cuisine, diets or designer jeans, fads come and go, but the functional ones usually find a secure place in society. The same holds true for many equine therapies. The more traditional methods of maintaining top equine athletes, like chiropractic work, massage, acupuncture and cold therapy, have found a permanent place in the care regimen of many competitive barns.
However, newer treatments such as lasers, magnetic blankets and pads and Game Ready compression therapies as well as the Back on Track ceramic products, are etching out a niche in some elite show barns.
King, who has been competing at the grand prix level for more than two decades, uses many of the same treatment methods on her horses that she knows work on herself.
“I still use the more traditional maintenance methods on the horses like chiropractic and acupuncture, but I find that newer therapies, like the magnetic blanket, the magnetic footpad and the Game Ready also have a place in the barn,” said King.
“I’ve discovered that using the traditional methods in combination with the new methods creates longer-lasting results,” said Christopher “Kit” Miller, DVM, of Miller and Associates in North Salem, N.Y. “Things like chiropractic and acupuncture are traditional because of their effectiveness at treating performance-limiting symptoms, and it seems that many horse owners are more receptive to a holistic way of treating an injury.”
Pinpointing The Problem
“Before you start any form of therapy on a horse, it’s first important to pinpoint exactly what the problem area is and determine whether it’s an acute injury or a chronic one, meaning it has been going on for four or more days,” insisted Kraig Kulikowski, DVM.
“In many instances, I think the old rules still apply for acute injuries or for horses that undergo a lot of stress on a day-to-day basis. Nothing is better than cold therapy—whether it be in the form of ice water or Game Ready or other products out there. Cold therapy has a strong effect on blood flow because it constricts the vessels and decreases inflammation around an injury and helps prevent new injuries from occurring.”
A modern variation of the traditional ice boot, the Game Ready Equine system was developed using the same athletic training principles used by human athletes: rest, ice, compression and elevation. The combination of these four elements, according to the makers of Game Ready, reduce pain, muscle spasms, tissue damage and swelling. What makes Game Ready unique is the adjustable compression settings, which supposedly mimic the way a horse’s muscles contract and relax, thus pushing fluids and cellular debris along the lymphatic drainage system.
“Because muscles do a lot of work, they produce byproducts like lactic acid that can be destructive if not metabolized and cleared. Blood flow helps the body metabolize, thus allowing it to flush out those harmful byproducts,” explained Kulikowski.
Dana Escales, the barn manager for Andre Dignelli’s Heritage Farm in Katonah, N.Y., notices the difference Game Ready makes in many of the pony hunters, although she occasionally uses it on some of the junior and amateur-owner jumpers as well. “We like the Game Ready or some form of ice boot because it gives the horses and ponies tighter legs,” said Escales.