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Muscle therapy Process - Step 1:Assessment
Step 1 - ASSESSMENT
This step in any therapy is often overlooked but it is here that you can make a huge difference. Make the wrong assessment and at best you waste your time, at worst you compound the problem. Below is a series of checks that we do for any horse that comes to us so that we can make the best assessment possible and give you as much confidence as possible that the problem can be sorted out. This list is not exhaustive but it gives you a flavour of what you can expect from us:
- Movement - When the horse first arrives, provided it is not too injured, we will walk and trot the horse on hard ground left, right and straight on to make an initial assessment of what the problem might be
- State of mind - The horse's state of mind is crucial. We like to know what we are getting into. Some horses are so damaged that the battle is much more of a mental than a physical one. We often receive horses who refuse to move, who ARE in pain but not so much that they cannot even move.
- Eyes - Can he see? Are the whites a good colour?
- Head - Tap the head. Does it sound hollow? If not it might indicate a deeper problem.
- Mouth - Does he breath smell normal and healthy? A horrible smell might indicate an abscess for example
- Teeth - Does he have all his teeth? Are they changing? Do they need floating?
- Saddle/equipment - Does the saddle fit? Is it in good working order?
- Skin - Does he have any skin problems, e.g. fungal or eczema? Is his coat healthy and shiny? Does he have too much hair or hair in places he shouldn't
- Faeces - Are they a good consistency? Do they smell nice? If we have the horse in for treatment we will have the faeces analysed. Waiting until a problem is visible can be fatal in the case of parasites
- Feet - Are there any inflammations? What shape are they? Do they need correcting?
- Feel the hooves. Are they all the same temperature? A difference in temperature usually indicates a problem in the circulation. Each horse is different but all 4 should be the same
- Muscles, tendons and ligaments - This is of course the key area for us. We use a light touch to touch the horse all over in order to assess the level and extent of pain
We are now ready to make a hands on assessment. Usually by the time people come to us with their horses they have usually tried everything (drugs, rest, etc.) and now the problem is chronic and usually acute. And most of the problems, even such as navicular disease, are due to problems with the muscular system which supports the skeleton. Think of your horse as a finely balanced building. Now imagine it is the muscles which are keeping it up (which is indeed the case). Now imagine that a key area of this building suffers undue stress and the problem is not fixed. What happens is that other areas of the building will start to take the load FOR WHICH THEY WERE NEVER DESIGNED. These areas will then start to show stress. You now have a choice: you can shore up the secondary symptom or you can find the cause. Once you have found the cause you can properly fix the problem. It is no different with your horse or for that matter any other animal doing more than what it needs to do to survive.
Once you have the diagnosis, the next step is up to you. If Therapy is recommended see Step 2.