Rob specialises in the treatment of subtle lameness, one sidedness, unevenness and riding issues in horses including performance related issues.
While rapid responses are commonly seen to acupuncture and manipulative treatment, Rob finds best results are achieved through the combination of these direct body treatments & using medication such as Pentosan
& Hyaluronic Acid to continue to work away at underlying (primary) problems.
It is important to remember that the health and wellbeing of a horse depends on the interplay of a number of factors. In Rob's experience pain (musculoskeletal, gastroduodenal ulcers, dental, etc) underlies 95%+ of performance and 'behavioural' issues in ridden horses. Hormonal issues (cycling in mares), dominance behaviour in colts and stallions and previous psychological traumas would make up the majority of the other 5%.
In Rob's opinion there are very few primary 'behavioural' problem horses, behaviour more commonly will be secondary to the horse being in pain where the pain source is yet to be identified.
To have ongoing success and to maximise performance with your horse once an issue develops there are 3 key points to remember:
1. The root cause of the issue must be identified
I see many horses with issues that are being treated for secondary or other unrelated problems. While this gives temporary - (1-4 week benefits) it is not until you identify and treat the underlying problem that you will achieve long term benefits in your horse. A basic example of this is horses with 'sore lower backs'; the vast bulk of these can be traced to issues in the hindlimb such as hock pain. Sore lower backs can also be caused by hip problems & cycling in mares as well as saddle fit issues and occasionally front end problems. Lumber pain is also common with horses with hindgut ulcers and acid issues.
2. A management plan
This needs to be put into place to minimise the impact of the issue on your horse moving forward. This may be via a 'cure' or in most cases by an ongoing management approach which may include any combination of veterinary medications and interventions, joint supplementation or direct body treatment.
It may also require you to make some adjustments to your saddle and equipment or the way in which you ride.
3. Other factors
A horse is fundamentally an uncomplicated animal. Misinformation on the internet is rife, facebook and other forums are often littered with incorrect and sometimes dangerous information as well as unqualified practitioners either treating or offering advice are all pitfalls for unsuspecting horse owners.
To get the best out of your horse you need to go back to basics, do the little things well (worming, feet, dentistry, saddle fit, improve your own techniques and riding).
Use qualified practitioners even if it costs a little more! in the long run it will be worth it.
Think about how a horse acts and responds naturally and keep your management program and stabling environment as close to nature intended (eg. feed hay when boxed to assist with gut pain and ulcer management)
Further Food for Thought:
> Body pain or injury - Is your horse in pain? This is the most important question to ask yourself.
Is there a physical reason for the poor performance or poor behaviour? Perhaps this reason has not been found as yet be it with your local vet, your regular bodyworker or other sources of expertise.
> Dental - How long since your horse's teeth have been done? It is recommended to have a dental check up by a professional (equine dentist) every 12 months
> Saddle - Does your saddle fit your horse? Every saddle needs to be fitted to every horse. Have a professional do this for you. Saddle fit is an interplay between horse, saddle and rider so any changes in any of these three factors will affect your saddle fit. For example changes in body weight and shape of rider or horse may put out your saddle fit and have nothing to do with the saddle itself.
> Feet - Feet should be addressed every 6 weeks (this can vary horse to horse but is a good 'average' guide). This may be a trimming or a shoeing. I personally don't believe any horse should be lame after any foot work for more than 48-72 hours. Shoeing/trimming ability varies greatly between practitioners and as the old saying goes 'no hoof no horse' it has never been more true
> Nutrition - What is the horse's being fed and is it appropriate for the work being asked? Is it balanced? is there anything lacking? Does your horse have a dietary intolerance that could be causing the chronic ulcers or gut pain? Nutrition is integral to a sound and happy horse.
To use another age old saying 'we are what we eat.'
Conditions Rob can help your horse with:
1. Arthritis & chronic joint injuries
2. Neck, back & pelvic issues (spinal)
3. Gut ulcers (Rob's examination includes a gut ulcer assessment)
4. Behavioural problems (bucking, pig rooting, girthiness)
5. Performance related issues - particularly unexplained poor performance where regular veterinary assessments have been unable to identify the problem.
6. Ligament and tendon injuries
7. One sidedness
8. Navicular disease