Ex-racehorse rehabilitation and re-training

When you take on an ex-racehorse you have to consider whether that horse has retired due to injury and whether you have the experience, resources and finances to try and get that horse up to a level of health and fitness that allows him to do the job you want him to do.

It takes a lot of time and patience and there is no short-cut for quick results and there’s no guarantee that they’ll ever get there either. But if they do, the rewards are immense and every second of walking in hand, carrot stretches and long reining will all be worth it. To take on an ex-racehorse you need to be committed and determined, but you’ll be an amazing person for doing it and to give a racehorse the gift of an equestrian home with a one to one relationship full of love (and probably treats!) is a truly wonderful gift to give.

So before taking on an ex-racehorse you need to consider the physical condition that he’s retiring in:

– Has there been a significant injury that has forced retirement?
– How will you manage this and pay the potential vet bills?
– Do you have the facilities, finances and time to rehabilitate that injury? You may need a flat paddock or somewhere safe to long rein, so are the roads quiet for doing roadwork to help harden and strengthen the skin, tendons and ligaments?
– Will you need the help of a specialist rehabilitation yard?

Even if there hasn’t been a traumatic injury, there are other longer-term conditions that may affect your horse, such as kissing spines or ulcers. Kissing spines, depending on its severity can either be managed conservatively with rehabilitation or may need operating on. Ulcers may require an expensive exploratory procedure and treatment. Again your finances and resolve may be tested!

If your racehorse has retired sound, then your journey may be easier and more straightforward, but there are still things to consider? Is your horse stiff from the intensity that comes from race training? You’ll need to give your horse plenty of time to adjust. This is a good time to add in lots of groundwork to help build a relationship whilst also allowing their muscles a bit of time to recover. This is also the time to get everything checked, saddle, bit, teeth and back. Also take the time to consult a nutritionist about their feeding requirements and start introducing any new feeds in slowly.

Alongside some muscle stiffness, particular muscle groups may be very over- developed and others under developed, and you’ll probably find that the muscles you want and need to be able to do a local dressage competition will be the ones lacking. Therefore you have to consider how you’ll school and rehabilitate to allow for this change in muscular distribution.

But the good news is there is plenty of help and support out there. The RoR community is a great group of people, who support and provide guidance as well as plenty of great events for you to attend. They also have a list of recommended trainers who will be able to help you achieve your goals. Here at The Crescent Veterinary Physiotherapy we have extensive experience of ex-racehorses transitioning into equestrian careers and can support your horse’s physical changes with a tailored physiotherapy package, either through the intensive package, (see details on the prices and packages page) or if you need a slightly different level of support, then get in touch to discuss what you need.

Regular physiotherapy for your horse is an excellent way to prevent injuries and illness.  Physiotherapy keeps your horse strong, supple and flexible so they are in the very best condition.  Check out the offers page to see what packages are available at great discounted rates for regular treatment plans.

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