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Step by Step Vet Physio Sarah Smith's horse Herbie trotting on the lunge

The Integrated Assessment

What is an Integrated Assessment (IA)?

An IA builds a “whole horse” picture, initially by listening to you and noting his/her environment and management, work type and load and any current physical or behavioural challenges. The horse tells their story through pictures and video. I analyse these to look for gait asymmetry and compensatory patterns in muscle development, weight bearing and footfall. Pain or discomfort can be read through the horses facial expressions and the way he uses his body and tail. The palpation or “hands on” examination is vital and confirms what I can see and enables me to pin point areas requiring treatment.

What happens at an IA?

The following process happens at every visit by Step-by-Step Veterinary Physiotherapy, with the first visit being the most detailed fact find, after this we record the changes that have occurred.

  • Full work management and clinical history

  • Static assessment, photographed from each side in front and behind.

  • Dynamic assessment. 30m in walk and trot on a hard level surface.

  • All gaits in an arena and ridden (if appropriate). Videos taken*.

  • Neurological/proprioceptive assessment.

  • Musculoskeletal palpation.

*Owner consent is required.

From which we compile a problem list, agree short and longer term goals which should return or maintain comfort and/or previous work and competition levels. Treatment for your horse will include:

  • Manual (massage and myofascial) techniques

  • Passive and active range of motion

  • Stretching

  • Electrophysical therapy

  • Hot and cold therapies where appropriate

  • Sure foot balance pads.

“The horses own laterality, handedness, sidedness will have an effect on saddle balance and rider biomechanics. Horses develop a locomotor strategy to alleviate any discomfort….”

Dr Russell Mackechnie-Guire 2020 Webinar series

Notes for owners

Before your first appointment

  • To maximise the value of your physio appointment we will try to fit in with a convenient time in your horses daily routine, when he/she will be settled in a barn or stable.

  • They may have a small hay or haylage net.

  • Please assist us by making sure your horse is dry, with clean legs, feet picked out and wearing a well fitting head collar with lead rope/lunge line available.

  • The horse can be trotted up in a bridle. Hard hat, gloves and riding boots recommended.

  • Carrots or treats are useful for demonstrating exercises.

After care for your horse

A short period of stable rest , 1-2 hours with fresh water available followed by turn out for the rest of the day or overnight is standard, but other advice may be given on an individual basis.

a grey horse walking in the arena
Photograph of horse behind - horse showing a crooked tail and unlevel muscles.
Close up of a horses hind hooves stepping over a coloured pole

Dynamic Assessment

Static Assessment

Proprioceptive Assessment

Ready to book an appointment? Contact Sarah now

Step by Step Veterinary Physiotherapy works in the UK and can visit your horse in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, parts of Warwickshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

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