Rehabilitation or “rehab” is a term frequently used to describe a process of returning the body’s movement patterns, flexibility and strength to its normal state. This can be a relatively short or very prolonged process depending on various factors including the presence of any injuries, the skill of the person carrying out the rehabilitation and the temperament of the horse or dog involved.
Rehabilitation can also be a process of restoring mental confidence in a given situation, although the term “retraining” is commonly used too. Once again, this process may take just a few sessions or months even years to achieve set goals, depending on the depth of fear felt by the horse or dog and strength of his or her flight mechanisms and the skill of the trainer.
Rehabilitation work can take the form of in hand groundwork exercises, lunging and long reining, stretching and massage, as well as ridden exercises in horses. Similarly, tricks which invoke postural balancing, core strengthening exercises, stretching and massage, and steady appropriate exercise programs are used for dogs.
But how much of this “rehab” work should we be using BEFORE an injury or problem occurs? Much rehabilitation work is actually applicable for daily use and promotes a stronger, more flexible and happier animal, able to carry out whatever tasks we ask easily and confidently. Why wait until injury is apparent before stepping back and reviewing what might be most effective in promoting the best health in our horses and dogs.
We are regularly posting articles which we hope you will find useful with your horse or dog to give him or her the best possible chance of a healthy and happy life.