Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Black Pirate Rehabilitation Case Study

Black Pirate
National Hunt

OWNER: Syndicate
TRAINER: James Ewart
Black Pirate has had an impressive career winning a point to point as a four year old and running in three competitive Bumpers winning at Wetherby and Ayr in 2018.
He then returned to Ayr for the Scottish Champion Bumper where he came second only beaten by 3.5 lengths. Following a setback, Black Pirate stayed at the Equine Therapy Centre for three months at the end of 2018 where he followed a programme designed by Dr Jessica York. Pirate’s hydrotherapy programme consisted of both swimming and Aqua-Treadmill exercise to enable him to increase his cardiovascular fitness and stamina along with improving his core strength and muscle tone. After three months rehabilitative exercise with us, Pirate was looking amazing and returned home to start his work back under saddle. Unfortunately when Pirate returned home in November he had a knock in the field and the decision was made for him to have some time off to fully recover.

Pirate Returned to us in June 2019 for another six week stay with the hope that we would be able to get him to a level of strength and fitness for him to be able to return to full work and with the aim for him to start his hurdling career in the coming season.

Swimming is a great fittening tool as it is a cardiovascular workout.  So it is important that horses that have been out of work are introduced to swimming gradually. As Pirate had not been in work for such a long time it was important to create a programme to allow him to slowly build up his fitness and strength. Pirate was first worked on the aqua-treadmill and over the first couple of weeks we gradually increased the length of his sessions and the depth of water, eventually adding tack and allowing a few minutes of trot to make sure that we were working on developing his core strength and targeting specific muscle groups.

Clearly Pirate remembered his previous stay as he seemed very happy to be with us again by being relaxed in his stable, he settled in to his paddock and loaded straight away on to the aqua-treadmill. After a few weeks Pirate was ready to start swimming. 

Again, Pirate had remembered his previous swimming experience with us and dove straight into the pool with no hesitation!  As with the aqua-treadmill exercise, it was important to build him up gradually. When horses swim with us, we closely monitor their heart rates as an indicator of fitness by recording their heart rate at rest and then checking it regularly throughout the swim session. This helps us to observe progression and adjust their training programmes accordingly.

Pirate has an exceptionally relaxed temperament and was incredibly laid back with us in the Therapy Centre, subsequently his resting heart rate was extremely low. We kept him on the same programme for 5 days in order to have a direct comparison of his heart rates week on week, this enabled us to assess how much to increase his programme. Pirate was a fantastic swimmer and maintained a very straight position in the pool indicating that his previous injury had no adverse effects on his way of going, and so he was able to develop his cardiovascular fitness without any detriment to his body.

By the end of Pirate’s stay his fitness had reached a level that he was completing 50 lengths of the pool. This incorporated straight warm up lengths, back to back lengths and sprint lengths. We also utilised the jets within the pool, to intensify the work-out by creating a current that the he had to swim against.

Pirate was also working on the aqua-treadmill with a roller and bungee for 45 minutes. This incorporated trotting for up to 12 minutes in shallower water and deep water walking for 10 minutes.

Pirate’s recovery rate when swimming was exceptionally quick; quicker than most fit event horses that we train. This indicated that by the end of his stay he was definitely fit enough to go home and start some faster work over ground under saddle His recovery rate was also likely related to his relaxed demeanour and possibly also why he had previously been so successful as a racehorse. Pirate’s work on the aqua-treadmill kept him strong in his core and over his back. Have a look at these before and after pictures, we think he’s looking brilliant.

Pirate on the day of his arrival.

Pirate six weeks later.

Pirate was a lovely horse to have on the Therapy Yard.  He was a real pleasure to work with and to just have around.  We enjoyed taking care of him and are really looking forward to following his Hurdling career and wish him and his team every success.  Hopefully we will see him again one day!

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Tom - Kissing Spine Rehabilitation Case Study

Connemara cross
Pony Club/ Allrounder

Tom: Interspinous Ligament Desmotomy

Tom was diagnosed with kissing spine after diagnostic tests were carried out when Tom’s behaviour started to deteriorate. It was found that Tom had impingement of three of the dorsal-spinous processes in the thoracic region and the decision was made for him to undergo interspinous ligament desmotomy surgery.

Tom initially started his treatment at home with two weeks box rest and half an hour walking in-hand twice daily. Tom then had his stitches taken out and arrived at Moulton Therapy Centre in March 2019 where we met him for the first time and were given the lowdown on his wound and how he had recovered so far.  He also had his very first session walking on the aqua-treadmill just for ten minutes, and he took to it really well.

Tom continued to walk on the aqua treadmill for a few days a week following a programme designed by our Hydrotherapist Dr Jessica York where the duration and water depth were gradually increased as Tom’s strength and stamina improved.  Two weeks into Tom’s rehabilitation programme a bridle and roller was introduced; there was clearly no negative association to wearing tack on the aqua-treadmill or on the lunge, therefore to create a soft and elastic contact a bungee was added encouraging him to work long and low and help build up the correct muscles. Tom was walked in large circles over poles on the lunge every day and small paddock turnout was also introduced for limited periods of time.

Six weeks post-surgery Tom started trotting on the aqua-treadmill for a few minutes in a low depth of water, which was built up over the next week to a total of ten minutes. It was clear that Tom was stronger and more balanced and took it all in his stride; he was forward and relaxed and clearly enjoyed his work.

The use of the aqua-treadmill has been very beneficial in Tom’s rehabilitation as it has allowed Tom to work symmetrically under supervised and controlled conditions. It effectively works as a full body workout and improves suppleness through the back. As the water is made deeper, stride length is increased and stride frequency is decreased therefore allowing a greater range of motion enabling muscle tone and core strength to be improved.

After a four week stay at Moulton Therapy Centre Tom returned to his owner to continue his rehabilitation programme, he settled back in at home immediately and was assessed by his Vet who was happy with his progress and how well the wound site had healed. Tom can now resume work on the lunge walking and trotting over raised poles, and a saddle can now be introduced and work under saddle can begin.  He will also look forward to enjoying full day’s turnout. We look forward to hearing about Tom’s progress and are excited for his future! 

Monday, 18 March 2019

Spa Case Study

Approx. 21
Wrist sprain / undiagnosed tendonitis

Normally fit and well but over the last few months, performance at basic routine tasks has deteriorated.  Some abnormal behaviour has presented itself, mainly in the form of moaning.  The moans describe a consistent burning pain but worse with added pressure or twisting.  Picking hooves is particularly painful, giving a sharper more unbearable pain.  Lifting a lot of weight or applying a lot of pressure also results in a sharper pain.

Initial issue, reason for visiting Therapy
Luckily, Jessica is here at the Equine Therapy Centre every day, so really should be making use of the cold water saline spa.

No official diagnosis.   Just repetitive moaning about how sore the wrist has become.  And the pain has increased over a time period of a few months.


Less pain!

Those of you that have been to the Equine Therapy Centre with your horse over the last few months may have had the ‘pleasure’ of hearing me complain about the pain in my wrist!  It seemed to be getting progressively worse too, starting as an intermittent dull ache leading to a pretty much permanent pain that was incredibly sharp on any lifting, twisting and particularly in tasks that require applying pressure such as picking feet.  It occurred to me that perhaps I should try submerging my wrist through the hatch into the freezing salty water of the spa to see if it would make it any better.  So, one lunch time, a couple of weeks ago now, I made the time and plunged my right arm through the hatch into the icy water, down to my elbow.  In all honestly, I thought that it might sting a bit for a second or two but that I would easily be able to brave it out for ten minutes or so!  How wrong was I?!!!  Wow!  It was really cold!  It was agony!  I could only manage 20 seconds or so at a time before yanking my arm back out again.  I could feel the cold blood going back up my arm into my shoulder and over my back and it was surprisingly painful!  But I persevered and kept dunking it back in, all the time keeping an eye on a stopwatch to see how long I could hold it under for the next time.  After about two minutes of intermittent dunking and yanking back out, my arm went numb and it became bearable so I could keep it there for ten minutes or so.

Afterwards, I made sure to wash the salt off my now bright red arm, and went back into the office with it stinging just a little as it slowly started to warm up.  That same afternoon, the pain was noticeably improved.  I mean, dramatically improved.  It had got to the point that my wrist was burning and aching at rest, but instantly after the cold water spa, the pain was much much less.  So I persevered with the cold therapy over a few days (whenever I got time), and I can honestly say the pain has more or less gone. 

Obviously, there has been no official diagnosis, no sophisticated scan images to be able to make any comparisons and no scientific element to this study at all!  But at least I can give a first-hand account of the dramatic change in the level of pain that I have felt.  I am sure the ideal would have been a prescribed period of rest however in my job it is simply not possible for me to be able to rest my dominant arm!  But this has been a really interesting and valuable experience to be able to feel first-hand how well the cold water spa has worked to reduce the pain.  I am sure that if I was more consistent with using the spa and more frequent with it too, the pain and soreness would be completely eliminated.

One of our previous blogs talks about the benefits of the cold water saline spa for horses.  Have a look http://mcequinehydrotherapy.blogspot.com/2017/09/cold-water-hydrotherapy-spa.html. But when it comes to horses, it’s important to remember that not all horses will tolerate it!  It is probably the most risky of all our hydrotherapies if the horse takes a dislike to it.  But, if tolerated and used correctly, it certainly has excellent healing properties and produces tremendous results.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Bailey's first swim

 Allrounder/ competes BD

Here is a throwback to September when Bailey had his taster swim.

After a few minutes of gentle persuasion and coaxing, Bailey took his first steps onto the ramp and into the pool. We closely monitored Bailey's recovery after the first few lengths by measuring his heart rate and then regularly checked it throughout the session, this enables us to have a good understanding of how fit Bailey is and allowing him to fully recover after his session. Bailey completed 10 lengths in total and as you can see he is a fantastic swimmer and took it all in his stride.  

We will now be able to create a training programme tailored to improve Baileys cardio vascular fitness and stamina and to work all of his muscles evenly. We are looking forward to the warmer weather in the spring when we can re-open the pool.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Spirit - Rehabilitation case study

Norwegian Fjord cross
Mounted Games


Chelsie and Spirit were part of a very successful national mounted games team winning several major competitions. In 2017 Chelsie and Spirit were crowned individual British Champions; however the duo’s highlight came in 2018 when they were picked to represent England at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. The pair continued their success, as in the same year they were also crowned champions at the individual European Championships.

Unfortunately while the duo were competing at HOYS 2018 Spirit sustained an injury to her shoulder after colliding with another of the fastest ponies on the team. The video can be seen below and is not for the faint of heart!
Spirit was immediately lame and her owner was distraught given her condition, however the onsite vets were exceptional, treating her immediately and investigating her injuries. Spirit had a full work up including X-rays and ultra-sound which confirmed that although there was no fracture present she had sustained significant brachial nerve damage.

Spirit’s initial treatment consisted of 3 weeks box rest; thereafter the vets advised that she could start gentle exercise, physiotherapy and turnout. Unfortunately it was apparent after Spirit’s first ride under saddle that she wasn’t fully recovered and therefore the vets recommended that hydrotherapy would be the best means of rehabilitation before Spirit was brought back into ridden work.

Spirit arrived at Moulton Therapy in December 2018, two months after the initial injury. After Spirit’s initial assessment on arrival, it was decided that she should remain with us to continue her rehabilitation work utilising the aqua-treadmill as much as possible to improve her core strength under controlled and supervised conditions; allowing her to work symmetrically to reduce her muscle atrophy.
A program specifically tailored to Spirit’s needs was developed by our Hydrotherapist Dr Jessica York, which included working on the aqua-treadmill five days a week starting in walk with a low water depth, gradually increasing the depth over time as well as the duration of exercise.  The introduction of a bridle and bungee was also to be part of her program in order to create a contact to enable Spirit to work correctly. The video of Spirit on the Aqua Treadmill can be seen here:

It was clear in just over a week how much stronger Spirit was becoming as her stride length increased and muscle tone developed.  After just 10 days Spirit’s owner came to ride her in the arena and her rehabilitation progress was clearly evident and Spirit had a spring in her step!
Over the course of the three weeks that Spirit stayed with us, her strength and stamina developed significantly allowing her to return home to continue her ridden work with her owner.
We wish Chelsie and Spirit the best of luck for the future and hope to see the duo back competing soon.


We are so pleased to see the lovely Spirit doing so well now. Thank you for the update Lynda & Chelsie. We love keeping up to date with how well all our clients are doing! 

Here is the video of Spirits first competition after rehabilitation.

" Hello Jessica just to keep you informed Spirit did her 1st Comp today and was in fine form And had an easy win She has come back into work better than ever xx Thank you and your staff so much for everything x "

Friday, 1 June 2018

Lottie - Rehabilitation Case Study - Caution - Graphic Photos of Injury

Therapy Case Study

All rounder

Unfortunately while Lottie was out on loan she became tangled in barbed wire and sustained a large soft tissue injury to her nearside hind leg. Luckily there was no damage to the joint or underlying tendon and ligament structures.

Treatment in the first instance was to immobilise the limb and clean it. This was done at the yard by the local vet. The wound was then dressed and monitored by the vet every 3 days while Lottie was on a long term course of antibiotics and pain relief. 

Lottie arrived at Moulton Therapy Centre on the 14th April, five weeks after injury. The dressing was removed after a couple of days and we started to cold hose and hand walk Lottie three times per day; as well as liberally applying Vulketan cream. Over time, her course of antibiotics and pain relief was tapered, ensuring that she was always as comfortable as possible. 

Treatment of Lottie’s wound is still ongoing however by the 4th week of Lottie’s stay with us the wound had nearly halved in size (photo from May 23rd ) and continued to heal extremely well.

From week 5, Lottie was able to be have all day turnout and was far more comfortable since the swelling had reduced significantly and was much more localised to the site of injury.

Lottie returned home last weekend and is now back to being turned out with her friends.

Once the wound has fully closed Lottie’s owner intends to bring her back to stay with us, so that she can use the aqua treadmill in order to regain strength and condition before returning to ridden work. 

As a yard favourite and given her fantastic rate of progress we are very much looking forward to seeing Lottie soon!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Jiminy Cricket's Case Study

Therapy Case Study

Jiminy Cricket (IRE)
Jim to his friends!
NH Racehorse

Jim Gordon

Simon West

Bruising in his feet meant that all over-ground work for Jim was halted on Veterinary advice and he would therefore be confined to box rest for two months!  Jim’s trainer Simon started to investigate swimming as an option to help keep him fit during this period of non-concussive work, and that’s how Jim came to stay with us at Moulton College Equine Therapy Centre.

Considering Jim was not allowed to do any concussive work, he was stabled on the Therapy Yard in the box nearest to the Therapy Centre.  This meant that Jim had only a very short controlled walk on concrete (about 20 strides) before reaching the softer rubber floor of the Therapy Centre.  On Day 1 the plan was to ensure that Jim could swim and ensuring that he had a positive first experience, as we like to do with all the horses on their first visit to the Centre.  It took about 40 minutes of gentle coaxing and persuasion before Jim took his first tentative steps into the water, down the ramp and into the pool.  And what do you know; he was a great swimmer!  On day 1, he swam about 10 lengths, and as he took to it all in his stride.

We developed Jim’s programme in accordance with trainer Simon West. At home
Simon likes to keep the same programme for 5 days in order have a comparison. So that is exactly how Jim’s program was designed while staying with us.  We could then have a direct comparison of Jim’s heart rates week on week, to assess how much to increase his programme. By Jim’s 8th week here he was totalling 40 lengths. This incorporated straight warm up lengths, back to back lengths and sprint lengths. Towards the end of Jim’s time with us we also turned the jets on within the pool, creating a current which he had to swim against making his programme more intense.

Jim stayed with us for 8 weeks in total swimming 5 times per week. After leaving us, Jim travelled home and the next day went straight back onto the gallops for a canter. Feedback from Simon was that Jim felt great and looked ‘a million dollars’!

Jim’s owners and trainers believe Jim is a very special horse and so do we!  We wish him and all of his team the very best of luck and hope to see Jim winning his races very soon!

UPDATE Jim’s first race back was in Newcastle on the 14th April! He was entered into the Novice Hurdle over 2m4f.

 ‘I couldn't be happier at the way Jimmy returned for his spell @ Moulton Equine Centre. I was kept fully updated the whole time he was away and the Team liaised with me on Jimmy's training program while he was there. 
Jimmy's return to the racetrack would not have been possible if it wasn't for them’ - Simon West.