Rehabilitation of the back following injury is best carried out without the weight of the rider.
The emphasis of this work should be on strengthening the neck, back, hindquarters and key muscle groups.
Depending upon initial severity, a carefully designed ascending exercise programme is generally better than rest.
It allows the back’s connective tissues to heal under “normal” tensile loading, and therefore the direction of forces they will experience once they are repaired.
The most valuable aids I have found are:
- The Pessoa Lungeing System: this is useful for redeveloping the topline following back pain. I often use this on horses that have undergone kissing spines operations. Using Pessoa lunge lines, carrying out transitions between all paces will help develop the lower back. Raised trotting poles and those on a related distance will help aid proprioception (awareness of the body and limbs) and strengthen both the back and the abdomen.
- An AquaPacer (water treadmill) is useful in rebuilding the topline. It also benefits horses returning to training following other orthopaedic injuries.
To read the full veterinary article on beating back problems see the current issue of H&H (14 June 2012)