Rehabilitation and Re-schooling
for Equine Athletes
Returning horses to work
after illnesses or injury
Managing chronic conditions
Reschooling for a new rider or discipline
Rehabilitating a horse from physical injury, exhaustion or abuse is a holistic process that includes considering nutrition, shoeing, dental health, immune status, emotional
well-being, mental stimulation and physical activity. And though the primary rehabber determines the appropriate pace and order of the progression, recovery often involves the knowledge and creativity of a variety of professional equine-care specialists. The process is a bit like peeling an onion; as one layer of unsoundness or undesireable behavior falls away, something else is revealed. Sometimes that means things look worse before they look better. Eventually it means you get to see the real horse underneath the compensations adopted to avoid pain, both physical and mental/emotional. The naturally beautiful movement returns and the true personality is revealed.
do like your deep knowledge of the horses' movements and how to enhance their health,
through lungeing, massaging and riding. When you watch the horses, I have the feeling that
you can see through their skin, into the muscles and bones."
Sun Valley, South Africa
At Desert Horse, the time-tested horse rehab process includes a custom-tailored balance of bodywork, therapeutic groundwork, longe work on a line and at liberty, and mounted work. First we consult with you to evaluate your horse, learning what you can tell us about who he used to be and what he could do, as well as determining what are the current issues and challenges. Then, a preliminary program is designed just for your horse. Maybe the horse needs the attention of a chiropractor, a dentist or a shoer before he can start to regain his balance and comfort in motion. Maybe he's ready for bodywork and the physical therapy of our simple but extremely effective groundwork program, called kinetic bodywork. The program is thoughtfully reviewed and altered as needed based on the experienced and caring observation of all parties involved. The horse's comfort, safety and soundness are our primary goals.
Rehabber Stacey Kollman is familiar with the physical and mental
needs of horses from a variety of disciplines, including hunter/jumper and eventing,
dressage, western pleasure, barrel racing and roping. For a horse recovering from injury or illness, it's important to eliminate movement habits
developed to compensate for pain as soon as possible to return the horse to balance,
stability and strength. The cornerstone of our program is a set of ground exercises designed to highlight details of the horse's
habitual posture and movement patterns and enable him to learn to make choices that improve balance, elasticity and range of motion. While the program works best when done with the horse in motion, these exercises can even be done with little or no movement while
the horse is on stall rest.
Rehabilitative longeing and mounted work with correct bend and self-carriage grow out of the groundwork lessons. We won't risk the progress of our equine clients toward soundness by allowing them to careen around a roundpen on the forehand or placing them in false carriage with gadgets. Instead, the horse learns to choose the best biomechanics for his body at that time, and the evolution of his choices marks his progress toward sustainable soundness.
Reschooling is often part of the rehab process, and vice versa. In general, the process involves a blend of the same techniques to help address physical and mental challenges that may be preventing basically sound horses from performing as well as they might. Reschooling can take many forms, depending on the needs of horse and owner. You might bring us a horse who is unhappy in or unsuitable for a particular "job," and ask for help to evaluate the horse for another discipline. Even horses who perform well in your chosen discipline can become stressed, physically and mentally, and we can help you find new and effective ways to keep your horse engaged and sound. We've also designed programs for retired pleasure and show horses returning to work as school horses or schoolmasters and broodmares coming back after a layoff.
Want to be part of the
process? We'll help equine professionals and horse owners learn basic bodywork, therapeutic groundwork and riding techniques
that will help you horse recover balance, suppleness and strength.
Rehabbing or Reschooling?
Does your horse need rehab? Or is he a candidate for reschooling?
Follow along with an actual rehab/reschooling project.
Trainers, make Desert Horse part of your team!
Professionals, consider contacting us on a
consulting basis to help with the time-consuming task of returning an equine athlete to
full use. We'd like to join your team. And because Desert Horse operates only as a
clinician/consultant, you need not worry that anyone will attempt to lure away your
students or boarders. We'll just help you help the horses to recover more quickly and
return to full use so your riders can return to their lesson programs and show schedules.