Following Ruby’s treatment for her sacroiliac injury, she’s been on a very slow rehab plan since Christmas. The last time Sharon (Kilminster Equestrian) saw us was about a month ago. We had been doing some good work out hacking (nothing special just long and low), but there wasn’t a great deal of difference to comment on in the lesson; quite disappointing to be honest given the work I'd been putting in. The vet concurred, and there was still significant muscle atrophy. Since then, Ruby had a week off with a cough, before picking up where we left off with lots of hacking in walk and trot – the difference being this time she’s also had daily treatments with the Activo-Med, incorporating Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy (PEMF) and cyclonic massage therapy.
I know the improvement I have felt, but wanted an expert opinion so asked Sharon to come and give us another lesson. I gave Ruby a pre-warm up treatment of 20 minutes (PEMF and massage) before putting the saddle on. First improvement; no dipping away, or swinging the quarters away from the saddle. The next point; mounting. Again, no swinging away, she just stood really still and didn’t shoot off as I mounted like she normally does. Definite progress. And then to the lesson. Here are Sharon’s reflections;
“Following Ruby’s recent treatments and rest, seeing her again for the first time was refreshing and the difference noticeable. Usually Ruby is tight, tense and unable to work over her back, giving the impression of the legs moving but the body held to protect, thus making it hard to work her into the bridle and over her back.
“It was a joy to see her arrive at the gate of the arena waiting patiently and soft. This in itself is a massive leap forward, as the obvious anticipation of the work ahead was not being felt in a negative way.
“Ruby had a treatment prior to being ridden, which is a good way to help her muscles warm up without the pressure of a saddle and rider aboard, allowing her to begin work in a softer way.
“Nicki has been following ‘doctors orders’ and strict exercise routine for ruby and it showed! Ruby was accepting of the saddle, rider, bridle and most importantly the leg, whereas usually the slightest change in position and use of leg meant a giraffe like stance, crooked sideways shuffle.
“I would like to see ruby brought ‘cold’ up to the arena to pinpoint what a difference the Activo-Med makes, but in my mind, I see a much more relaxed horse ready for work. Ruby will have a long journey ahead to become truly connected, soft and working from behind, but the starting signs are very promising.”
From my perspective, Ruby felt unrecognisable; I was grinning pretty much the whole session and enjoyed seeing a bemused, and pleasantly surprised Sharon! We started by doing some flexing work, and by the end of the session were trotting on both reins with an equal contact, and maintaining her speed, balance and straightness in a way that we have never achieved before. Not exactly Piaffe and passage but for a young horse recovering from injury this was entirely new territory. In short these are the improvements we have recorded;
· Loss of tension – much more relaxed throughout her body, neck and jaw. Felt softer and much more supple in her work
· Straightness – able to work in straight lines and on a circle evenly which was impossible before
· Light in the hand – previously very heavy in the hand, especially on one rein
· Better engagement of the hindquarters – tracking up, lengthened stride and generally much better range of movement with the hinds which was previously very limited. Excellent leg yield achieved!
· More responsive to aids – instant reactions in both upwards and downwards transitions. Ruby often completely ignored half halts before and just became more tense
· Balanced trot – she was able to maintain a balanced and regular trot which was impossible before, where she would dive onto her nose and rush away to avoid using her hind end
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I was hoping for an improvement but even I was surprised by the difference. The Activo-Med has allowed Ruby to work without the tension, which enables her to start using herself properly and engaging the correct set of muscles. For a horse in Ruby’s position that is vital. Not only that, but when we get Ruby to the stage where she can start doing some intro tests, I will definitely be taking the rug for a pre-warm up treatment; that is the ultimate secret weapon to gain a few extra marks; less tension, better movement and a fantastic attitude! What more could you want?!
FMBs Therapy Systems offer advanced therapy equipment to enhance suppleness, fitness and rehabilitation for horses, riders and their dogs. To find out more about their range of products, or to see which top riders are already using them, please visit the website or find them on Facebook and Twitter for latest news, competitions and offers.
Sharon Kilminster is a BHS registered instructor, BD trainer and judge based in Hampshire. For further information, or to book some training please visit the website or find Kilminster Equestrian on Facebook and Twitter.