When bringing a horse back into work following injury or accident, it is important to remember their reduced proprioception.
Proprioception is the ability of the horse to be unconsciously aware of the position of their limbs in movement and their spacial orientation.
Proprioception is changed due to sensation of pain and lameness, and it is important to allow this to recover so that the horse has confidence in its ability to move correctly without pain
A serious injury may require Sensory Re-Education prior to commencing any demanding work. One method is using a Sensory Re-Education Path (SRP).
An example of an SRP is shown below. Using this, the horse is lead along the SRP and allowed to see where it is placing its feet. Begin with 3 min at walk, and increase by 1 min daily to reach 15 min.
|Shallow Sand||Pebbles||HARD GROUND||Water||HARD GROUND||Deep Sand||Shallow Sand|
These sections only need to be about 3-6m in length. This gives the horse enough time to feel and adapt to the new sensation.
Using this type of technique following any lameness/injury/accident will greatly assist your horses re introduction to work, and reduce the chance of re injury through clumsiness.
For more information :
(Denoix, JM, Pailloux, JP, (2004) Physical Therapy and Massage for the Horse, 2nd Edition)