Therapy for horses

health, mobility and performance improvement through therapy

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Sonja Cibulka

Pretoria / RSA
Phone: +27 673050155
Facebook: SSC Equine Therapy
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About me

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Since the age of 9 years I worked and rode horses actively.

To consider the horses as a whole in addition to performance capability, health factors must be also taken into account. I studied equinus in Ingolstadt (Bavaria) as a horse therapist with equinus.

There I was taught and tested by a team of instructors consisting of horse therapist, veterinarians, hoof orthopaedist, saddlery master and a physiotherapist.

Through this training I am able to get an overall picture of every different horse, and also to help to initiate the right therapy in cooperation with the veterinarian and to increase the performance of your horse.

With my love for horses and their well-being, I’m continuously in training and learning. I’m also qualified and trained osteopathic horse therapist. I can therefore also improve any issues in your horses skeletal and joint system. With my experience in the muscular and skeleton and joint system, I will have an even more holistic effect on your horse.

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What is horse therapy?

Horse therapy is the application of manual techniques and combines with physiotherapy and active gymnastics.

Physiotherapy is a form of specific training and external applications of remedies, which mainly restores, improves and maintains the movement and functionality of the body.

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Physiotherapy includes: active gymnastics includes:

The treatment procedere always includes a Horse analysis! This is the only way to find out the causes of the problems and initiate the right therapy.

Horse therapy is a complementary option to conventional medicine. Therefore it is also important that horse therapists always work together with the respective trainer, veterinarian, saddler and farrier.

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What problems make horse therapy necessary?

All these symptoms show discomfort and pain and need to be treated, not only symptomatically, also by reason of their cause in order to increase the well-being and performance of the horse.

Horse therapy is also used to provide for:


Massage: creates a warming to the body surface and relaxes the muscles by rhythmic pressure to the muscle tissue. It is commonly used to treat fatigue, stiff and torn muscles. Massage treatments are also used to prevent injuries and helps the blood circulation and metabolic system. A distinction is made between a fitness massage, which has a toning effect, and a relaxing massage, which is used for tension, hyperacidity (muscle fatigue) or after any traumatic influences.

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Stretching Extensions active and passive: Stretches are used to improve joint mobility, it also increases the joint radius as well as muscles elasticity, tendons, ligaments and fascia extensions. Stretching also avoids one-sided loads. Before any stretching can be done on the horse, the horse must be warmed up appropriately by either riding or by a fitness massage.

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Trigger therapy (Jack Meagher): is a therapy where pressure is applied to the muscle tensions area so that the tension spot can be relieved. These areas are called trigger points. It is used to remove muscle spasms immediately. This kind of therapy may also be used as preventative measure, such as horses not yet showing any signs of lameness but yet may have tense muscles not seen by the naked eye, it can only be felt. If these points are treated before any lameness shows, then tendon damage will be avoided.

Lymph drainage: is a light massage made along the Lymphatic tracts to the lymph glands in order to stimulate the lymph flow again. This therapy is used to help the horse remove all kinds of wastes, toxins and pollutants from it’s body. This is necessary for swelling caused by strains, compressions, bruises, fractures and after any operations and poorly healing wounds.

Acupressure: is also called regulation therapy. It regulates the energy in the body and makes it more balanced . This activates certain points to restore balance in the meridians. In this way it can have a preventive but also health-promoting effects on certain diseases.

Osteopathy: Tension and movement restrictions are palpated and muscles and joints are mobilized using various techniques.

Training for the rider:

Horse analysis

A horse analysis is always a basic requirement before any therapy.

The first step is to create a profile and position analysis of your horse, to access the horses physical structure. I look at the physical build, the position of the leg’s and joints and access the muscular system.

The second step is the palpation analysis, where I examine your horse for sensitivities, pain and condition of the muscles.

Afterwords I test the mobility of the spine and the individual joints. This is then followed by equipment training, where the saddle in particular is often a problem for the horses back.

If your horse does show any movement problems or lameness, I will then analyze your horse in motion.

Finally I would like to discuss the veterinary history of the horse. As to which I will then prepare an individual therapy program for each individual horse.