Rehabilitating Your Horse From an Injury


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If your horse sustains an injury that requires long-term recovery it can be difficult to be without your riding partner for the months of recovery, but rehabilitating your horse doesn’t have to be an agonizing process. With these tips and ideas you can get started safely rehabilitating a horse.

Work with Your Veterinarian

Any serious long-term injury should be evaluated by your horse’s veterinarian. Depending on the injury, tests such as x-rays and ultrasounds may be necessary to determine its severity and the best course of treatment. Your veterinarian may prescribe pain-relieving or anti-inflammatory drugs to help your horse through the rehabilitation process. The veterinarian will also be able to best tell you how to safely rehabilitate your horse. Rehabilitations may require stall rest, limited turnout, hand walking, leg bandaging, and various other treatments.

Ask Questions Early

When your horse receives a diagnosis of a serious, long-term injury, you may be a bit overwhelmed. During the first few days of treatment you may realize that you have questions that you didn’t think to ask your veterinarian. These questions might include details about your horse’s treatment, or you might be looking for information on the recovery timeline or expected long-term prognosis. Make a list of these questions and communicate with your veterinarian early on in the process. Doing so will not only put your fears to rest, it may help clarify details about your horse’s treatment and rehabilitation.

Focus on the Positives

Instead of dwelling on how you cannot ride or work your horse, look at what you can do with your time together. Depending on your horse’s injury, grooming, massage, hand walking, and even some basic groundwork may be possible. If you own a laptop computer, bring it down to the barn and spend the time in your horse’s company while you work or catch up on emails. Hold your horse and let him hand graze. Perform the little chores that you never have time for, like pulling his mane or doing basic clipping maintenance.

Be Patient

The most difficult aspect of rehabilitating a horse is the patience that the process requires. No one likes it when they’re unable to ride their horse, but you’ll need to accept that that is the case for a long period of time. As time passes, your horse may seem better and ready to return to work, but it’s important to remember that if you rush the process, your horse’s injury could potentially become worse than it originally was, altering his long-term prognosis.

If it helps you to be more patient, try to find another horse that you can ride or work with during your own horse’s rehabilitation. A short-term lease might be the ideal situation, getting you back into the saddle again and giving you something to focus on aside from your horse’s injury.

Rehabilitating a horse is a long process, but with patience and attentive care, many horses recover from serious injuries and return to their careers.

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