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    Your Horse - An Athlete You Can Ride

    The best way to keep your horse sound, healthy and cooperative is to view them as an athlete, and treat them accordingly.

    Human athletes these days, from professional sports teams down to high school level, and even to Pop Warner and Little League, have state of the art conditioning and therapy available to them. Utilization of these methods to keep athletes in top condition is virtually universal. There is some level of cooperation between teams and trainers to find out the latest methods being used to help their athletes, but there is also actual espionage that takes place to see if another team may be using something new that could give their athletes any advantage.

    Human athletes also know the value of keeping their bodies intact during their years of competition so they may have something left of their bodies when their playing days are over. Most modern athletes embrace conditioning and therapies to keep them going, while increasingly avoiding drugs, injections, and surgeries unless absolutely necessary. The athlete who repeatedly throws themselves into competition without addressing their bodily stresses with proper maintenance therapies and conditioning, will simply not last very long, and injuries will pile up quickly.

    Horses need similar care, or the consequences will be similar. The problem is that horses will generally continue to perform and give it their best for you no matter how they are feeling. What the rider will first notice is a loss of suppleness, evenness, and cooperation. By the time a rider notices lameness in their horse, it can be too late to bring them back.

    Happily, more riders and trainers are coming around to the notion of a horse as an athlete, mainly differing from their human counterparts by virtue of having to carry a passenger during competition, and inability to verbally communicate their physical issues. The rewards of  treating a horse as a proper athlete include more winning and less vet bills, not to mention a great riding horse that will last a long time, as it should be.

    Equine Sport Performance is dedicated to being on the cutting edge when it comes to Accelerated Conditioning and bringing the best of health and performance to your equine athlete.

    Happily, the days of “A horse is a tool; use em' up and throw em' away..” seem to be going the way of the horse whip.    



    Accelerated Conditioning For Equine Wellness and Performance

    Out in the wild, horses naturally possess ideal conditioning for their circumstances. However, once we subject horses to captivity and our requirements of them, their conditioning can break down without outside intervention to keep their conditioning at optimum levels. 
    We require horses to perform actions that are not natural to them, at least not over and over again, and at the same time carrying us on their backs and perpetually balancing our weight. This places stress on the horse that is usually not distributed evenly over the horse's supporting structures, mainly the back, neck, shoulders, and hips. This stress is then distributed to the legs, and again, not evenly. 
    Nobody is perfectly balanced and if you don't believe that, try a little experiment. Take two equally calibrated bathroom scales and stand on them, one foot on each. Relax and have someone you trust read the scales. Don't be shocked. Realize that most people put 5-10 pounds more weight on one foot due to imbalances in the hips, spine,or shoulders, and sometimes even more. Realize too, that this is likely an indication of how much weight you are putting in each stirrup.
    Now picture your horse constantly having to balance you while moving, not to mention jumping, racing around barrels, performing complex dressage maneuvers, or just moving down the trail (Let's not even get started on roping, reining, and cutting). Stress will begin to build and concentrate starting in the front or back on either the right or left side. The side absorbing the most repetition of stress will begin overcompensating with greater muscle tension, while the other side becomes deconditioned and ultimately weaker. In addition the compensation travels to the opposite corner of the horse, either front or back. The resulting imbalance produces a horse that “feels crooked” or resists turning to one side. This stress, whether it originates in the front or the back, eventually puts stress in the middle of the horse, under the saddle. 
    Deconditioning affects the not only the muscles, but the joints, tendons, and ligaments. Deconditioned muscles get less blood, nutrients and oxygen, making them fatigue quicker. The horse tires faster and becomes less coordinated in their movements. Ultimately, a variety of injuries can result.   
    Outside therapies such as chiropractic adjustments do not hold for long if the deconditioned and unbalanced muscles and tissues are not addressed as well.
    Fortunately, recent technological advances have made Accelerated Conditioning of deconditioned areas of the horse fast and effective, and technologies can be combined for the best results.  
    What better way to Accelerate the Conditioning of structures and tissues than forced induction (think supercharging or turbocharging) of oxygen, blood, and nutrients, along with accelerated pumping and flushing of waste products? Dissolving muscle knots, scar tissue and adhesions to facilitate this process? Resetting trigger points so the brain can send equal signals to both sides? Then stimulating and toning muscles in the affected areas (like those new “Ab Exercisers” you slap on your stomach and flip a switch)?
    At Equine Sport Performance, Dr. Michael Reuben combines the most advanced technologies available to achieve Accelerated Conditioning of your horse in the shortest time, and then maintaining your horse's highest levels of conditioning, performance, and wellness. 



    Dressage, The 3 Main Concerns

    Dressage riders are after perfection of motion in their horse. They must perform a series of predetermined movements, the execution of which requires not only rider-horse cooperation, but optimum biomechanical function of all components of the horse's body that contribute to these movements.

    The three main concerns of Dressage as experienced by the rider, and the source of diminishment of this perfection have been described as the following:

    1. The horse's back cannot lift and the horse is therefore unable to drop the rear end and get underneath himself (collection).
    2. Achieving suppleness in the neck and back.
    3. Achieving evenness of gait to both right and left.

    These are all issues that may have obvious causation to a professional that has studied the spine, nervous system, musculoskeletal biomechanics, and kinesiology, and the relationship of each to proper structure and function - say, a chiropractor. However, the traditional medical veterinary approach has in many cases not supplied satisfactory answers or treatment, and these issues continue to be problematic for riders relying solely upon this approach.

    In reference to #1, ability of a horse to properly collect requires proper mobility of all of the lumbar spinal joints, sacroiliac joints, and to some extent the spinal joints of the thoracic (withers to back of the saddle) and cervical (neck) spine.

    I presented this question to Dr. Renee Tucker, DVM, author of the excellent book “Where Does My Horse Hurt”, and who is also trained in equine chiropractic and acupuncture. Dr. Tucker states the following:

    “Most horses can't do #1 and the hocks are blamed (and injected). What's really happening is the lumbar spine can't flex due to chiropractic issues. This results in the hocks getting overused and sore.”

    So essentially, stop blaming the hocks, stop injecting them, have the horse's spinal issues addressed (with chiropractic, of course) and the horse will be able to collect comfortably, effortlessly, and without invasive (and expensive) procedures.

    Now let's take a look at concern #2, which is actually closely related to concern #3, essentially having the same causation and solutions.

    Suppleness means looseness. Not laxity, which implies a state of instability that is usually caused by damage to joint and tendon structures from injury and/or overuse. Scar tissue and adhesions tend to be the body's way of repairing such damage and ultimately results in a loss of proper motion in these structures. Looseness as desired by the Dressage rider is freedom of motion with proper muscle tone and neurological control.

    Overall suppleness and evenness of a horse depends on muscles functioning properly and in tandem with opposing muscle groups, and balance of muscular contraction on both sides of the body. Major muscles that attach to the legs, shoulders and hips start at the back, specifically the spine, and not the other way around. If spinal joints are not moving properly and evenly to both sides, say goodbye to suppleness and evenness.  

    The muscles do not think for themselves and the nervous system must tell them what to do. The horse's nervous system must be functioning as close to 100% as possible with no interference or distraction, which can be caused by stress or imbalances in the spinal joints. The nerve branches from the spinal cord pass through openings between the spinal joints (for protection) and are highly dependent upon proper function and movement of the spinal joints. This is important, as the horse's brain must process rider input so the proper signals can be sent to the muscles and have them respond appropriately. If there is stress and therefore potential tissue damage detected in any of the neurological channels anywhere from the brain to the legs, this creates interference in the “brain to hoof” connection. This in turn results in loss of muscular balance and therefore loss of evenness of gait and loss of overall suppleness.   

    So there you have it Dressage riders, or any of you horseback riders for that matter. Take care of your horse's back and you will have the evenness, suppleness, and horse you desire.

    Equine Sport Performance is dedicated to provide the finest in state of the art procedures to keep your horse's back and neuro-musculoskeletal systems functioning at maximum efficiency, providing maximum benefits to your horse at minimal cost to you.



    EquiPulse, The Star of the Show

    Anyone who has hired Dr. Reuben to work on their horse has noted his 4-part procedure delivered in a particular sequence. The reason for this is that each procedure prepares the structures and tissues to receive the next procedure with maximum effect. The goal and usual result is maximum improvement in a minimum amount of time.

    Every procedure is important but the final procedure is the Grand Finale. This would be the EquiPulse, which is a highly effective application of a Pulsed Electromagnetic Field or PEMF, the most powerful healing technology yet developed for man or beast. PEMF is non-static, unlike therapy with standard magnets or magnetic blankets. PEMF delivers the magnetic field in high-powered pulses, and can penetrate far deeper into the tissues than static magnets, with far greater effect.

    In the world of medicine, physicians have long known that “the body electric” is for real: tiny electrical currents and magnetic fields are constantly firing off inside you. Until recently, we haven't known how to harness these forces for healing. But a handful of scientists and medical innovators have relentlessly pursued this and have been ultimately succeeding, especially now with modern technology enabling production of a sufficiently portable machine that can generate a powerful enough PEMF that can be controlled and therapeutically applied.

    So how does PEMF heal? Nerves, muscles, bones, cartilage, spinal fluids and blood all rely on a symphony of dancing ions to function correctly. Injuries or stress that accumulates to cause tissue inflammation can interrupt this “dance”. PEMFs activate these electrically charged particles in ways that turn off inflammation and turn on cell repair. PEMF instantly expands the diameter of veins and capillaries, which does the following:   


    • More blood can flow to the area being treated, which is critical to accelerating the healing process.
    • Around inflamed areas, vaso-dilation will help dissipate buildup of fluid, thus reducing swelling and inflammation.
    • Vaso-dilation quickly enables many other of the body's healing mechanisms, such as cell growth and repair, lymphatic drainage, oxygen flow, and energy storage.


    Additionally, scarring and trauma to muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and cartilage start to break up. This provides the relief most patients (including horses) experience after one or two treatments on an affected area. No other form of therapy, not laser, not TENS, shockwave, ultrasound or anything else currently available, has the widespread scope of regenerative and relieving effects of PEMF. The EquiPulse is considered the Ferrari of PEMF devices.

    Over the last decade there has been a proliferation of PEMF devices in every discipline of the equine industry, primarily the EquiPulse:

    • Dr. Henry Adair, DVM at the University of Tennessee has integrated the EquiPulse into our country's only Equine Rehabilitation Certification Program for DVMs and RVTs.
    • Dr. Mark Martinelli, DVM, PhD, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine, has integrated the EquiPulse into his practice at Southern California Equine Orthopedics since 2009, with great success.
    • Dr. Chris Newton, DVM of The Rood and Riddle Equine Center in Lexington Kentucky, has used EquiPulse with “stunning results”, along with many other equine therapeutic facilities nationwide.


    Dr. Michael Reuben, D.C., CVCP of Equine Sport Performance in Southern California has integrated the EquiPulse into his equine therapy practice since 2013. He has recorded astounding results, and many happy horses and their humans, which is why at Equine Sport Performance the EquiPulse is the “Star of the Show”.




    Can a Horse's Back Issues Affect Their Internal Organs?



    They can, but this answer must be carefully qualified. Firstly, I always promote the services of Equine Sport Performance as correction and optimization of issues involving the joints, muscles, soft tissues (fascia), and neurological functions of the horse, specifically in relation to the back, neck, hips, shoulders, and legs. 

    Having said all that, now consider the following: A horse has a finite amount of energy at any given time to supply the overall function of the entire body, not only in the musculoskeletal system but all systems of the body. This is in addition to energy expended while carrying a rider and executing the demands of the rider. Any additional stress which draws energy away from normal functions can decrease the efficiency of those functions. When the body is dealing with back issues which involve abnormally tight muscles, loss of full joint motion and inefficient neurological function, the resulting asymmetry and unbalanced movement takes more energy than movement without these issues, especially with a rider aboard. With these issues continuing uncorrected the horse will still keep going, but the horse's body is in a continuous state of damage and repair at the cellular level. Energy is constantly diverted to the areas that are taking abnormal stress and are in this continuous cycle of damage and repair. 

    Does this draw from other systems that can possibly lose efficiency and even break down after a while? To what extent is debatable, but most agree that it certainly can. Suffice to say that a horse that is happily moving with no pain or discomfort in their joints or muscles will also likely have better digestion and elimination, as well as other bodily functions. Just like us.

    There are certainly many external and internal factors which can contribute to the inefficiency and dysfunction of the internal organs of a horse. Neuro-musculoskeletal (i.e., back pain) issues are only one possibility and although they may not be a causative factor, they can certainly be a contributory factor to a horse's overall well-being or lack thereof. In many cases these issues are among the most easily addressed with proper therapeutic intervention, maintenance and most importantly, prevention. Why not at least eliminate this possibility, and insure that this highly important aspect of your horse's health is covered?

    Equine Sport Performance is dedicated to provide the finest in state of the art procedures to keep your horse's neuro-musculoskeletal systems functioning at maximum efficiency, providing maximum benefits to your horse at minimal cost to you. Contact me today.