MAGNETISED products are becoming increasingly popular, with leg wraps, rugs and halters now widely available for pre-exercise or rehabilitation use. But can you ride in any of them?
MAGNOTHERAPY is centuries old, but, like many alternative and complementary therapies, there is little scientific evidence to support its efficacy — although anecdotally it is reported to have many benefits. Some magnetic equine products are said to help prevent injury by warming-up muscle, and alleviate the symptoms of certain physiological conditions by speeding up blood supply and healing time. Magnetic products usually use bipolar systems, with static magnets fixed within the product.
Products for riding in
A recent innovation is the Barnsby FTS Magnetic Crownpiece, a leather headpiece that attaches via Velcro loops to the headpiece of a bridle or headcollar and includes a series of strong magnets. The headpiece is said to have a direct effect on the axis vertebrae at the top of the spine, helping the horse to relax and work in a calmer, softer way, and helping to loosen topline muscles, facilitating freedom of movement.
Show jumpers including Nick Skelton and Swiss rider Christina Liebherr have used a magnetic crownpiece for training and competition, while Margaret Phizacklea MRCVS, an associate at a Suffolk veterinary practice, has used one on her advanced medium dressage horse, Coole Dude, to help keep him calm and relaxed.
“As it’s separate from the bridle, it can easily be changed from one bridle to another,” she explains.
“As for whether it works or not, it’s difficult to say categorically, but I do feel that he goes a little lighter when wearing the crownpiece.”
MAGNETISED boots are proving popular, although many leg wraps are designed only for use pre- and post-exercise — check before use. There is a range of products available, including Magnet Therapy’s Tendon Boots and Bioflow’s neoprene Horse Boots, both providing brushing protection during gentle exercise.
Eventer Lucy Thompson of Kent-based Equine Sport Therapy has used a variety of magnetic products on her horses, including bell boots to improve hoof condition and magnetic rugs, which she says are particularly useful for reducing stiffness when travelling.
Aerborn produces a range of magnetic products for pre-exercise warming (although not recommended for ridden work), while Equilibrium’s Therapy Magnetic Back Pad is said to relieve stiffness and promote healing.
Ask your local retailer or saddler for details of magnetic products suitable for your horse, and always seek veterinary diagnosis for clinical equine issues.
Magnetic Crownpiece costs around £73
Tel: 01922 621676 www.barnsby.com for a list of retailers.
Equine Sport Therapy Tel: 01732 700912 www.equine-sport-therapy.co.uk
This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (11 October, ’07)