Thermal imaging, trainers, training, assessment, monitoring and preventative measures for rehabilitation and injury prevention in horses

"Part of the skill of training is being able to walk the tightrope between adaptation and breakdown - being able to produce a horse fit enough to do the job, whilst subjecting them to minimal wear and tear along the way. Anyone can get a horse fit, but a good trainer can do it with minimal risk of injury".  

 

Equine Exercise Physiology. Marlin & Nankervis 2002

Responding to Training

 
  • monitering the whole horse through training and responses to training
  • assessing one-sidedness; observing and monitering assymetrical heat patterns
  • adapting your training challenges according to feedback
  • responding to the needs of the tissues themselves by following heat signs and reducing stress before breakdown
  • as an observational tool for the prevention of injury.
  • bringing a horse back into work post injury
  • following the dynamic responses to treatment and training during rehabilitation 

 

In horses or other animals that are expected to “stay at the top of their game” there is no diagnostic tool that is more valuable in achieving that goal than Infrared Thermography because it is measuring a physiological change rather than a physical (anatomical) change.

Physiological changes / responses precede anatomical changes which are the actual injury, therefore, when the temperature changes, the tissue change (injury) will follow unless appropriate actions are taken to prevent the injury. Regular thermographic scanning can indicate when changes are necessary in training, or other strenuous physical activity, to prevent or limit the occurrence of major injuries.

Building A Picture

By working closely with the rider/trainer and discussing what the rider is feeling and using thermal imaging to identify and check up on specific areas of the horse we are able to build an informed picture of how the horse is coping with the everyday stresses of training.

Case Study: Capable mare and capable rider.

The horse imaged below has just developed a balanced canter on one rein. The rider however was aware of a training weakness being revealed in the left hind. When to push on and back off become poignant questions and knowing the source of discomfort or weakness allows the rider and trainer to modify their training programme, understand which parts of the horse are feeling the 'pressure' and helping the horse to become stronger and more able by making good choices; specifically choosing exercises to develop strength and/or suppleness.

 

Imaging this horse quickly revealed that the left hip was feeling the strain of training; the rider can quickly adjust training demands and exercise to support the whole horse.

 

healthy looking back

 

healthy looking back

 

There is a 3 degrees C difference in the tuber ischii or sitting bones (equivalent to humans) of the pelvis.

The hips showed a differential of 4 degrees C. A difference of more than 2 degrees C is considered significant. A further thermographic imaging session will allow 'hands on' monitering.

healthy looking back

Prevention Far Outweighs Cure!

Imagine, having a tool that allows you to see what is going on in the moment. Standard diagnostic tools that the veterinarian uses show you the damage that has been done after it has been done. What if you had a warning system that allows you to see potential damage being done.

Veterinarian A. Kent Allen DVM, who wrote an article entitled 'How do we keep Eventers Sound?' states that "diagnostically, thermography, if done on a regular basis, may reveal the problem up to two weeks previously" and "this technology can be used following the injury during the rehabilitation period".

By bringing together the technology of Equine Thermography with your training pattern and insightful use as a trainer/rider you will have a direct method of geting high tuned and quality feedback straight from the horse and in the moment; not days, weeks or months later when the damage has already been done!

'WHERE' NOT 'WHAT'!

It is important to remember that there is never a diagnosis being made of the horse; a veterinarian is the only professional, by Law, who is qualified to make a medical diagnosis.

By knowing 'where' the issues present we can make more informed choices for the benefit of the horse, succeed in the journey, prevent injury or breakdown and take the right course of action in training and schooling decisions.