When caring for the young horse there are so many aspects to think about. It can be difficult
to find the balance of achieving good health and mobility whilst minimising the risk of injury.
Physiotherapy may be one of those things that gets missed off the list when people are
starting their young horse’s introduction to life.
Like children, a horse’s early years have a big influence on their entire life. Impacting
personality, behaviour, performance and susceptibility to injury.
Foals and young horses will experience inconsistent and awkward stages of growth and
development. Growing and playing can result in sore, stiff and fatigued muscles. This can
lead to asymmetry without us even knowing. This can lead to compensatory soreness as
extra strain is placed on other muscles. This compensation can cause postural changes
which affect movement. If they are addressed early, the bad posture can be altered before it
becomes a habitual stance. Some of these youngsters may also get injuries that will not
become apparent until much later in their ridden years. This is where physio can come in
useful and help to pick up these imbalances and injuries before they become a long term
Change is occurring in the equestrian world as more and more horse owners and
practitioners look to alternative or complementary therapies as forms of preventative health
So when considering our horses’ future, the earlier we begin to care for the qualities we will
ask from them later in life, the better and happier their future will be.
Be the advocate for your young horse.
Young Horse Checklist:
Vaccinations: make sure you give your youngster the best chance in life by vaccinating them against deadly diseases.
Nutrition: seek professional advice on the correct dietary requirements for your growing youngster.
Teeth: check their teeth are in good health and symmetrical before introducing a bit/bridle. This will prevent asymmetrical loading and pain through the Temporomandibular joint.
Tack: it is crucial that the first saddle ever placed on the young horse's back should fit. Otherwise, there's a risk of pain, development of scar tissue or asymmetrical muscle building which could cause lifelong problems.
Training: avoid movements that could compromise development. Prioritise hacking and getting them out and about in straight lines. Think about the height of the jumps or advanced movement you are doing so as to minimise stress and strain on their joints. It is also important that if you are doing some light schooling with your youngsters that you work equally on both reins.
Physio/Bodyworker: Get periodic check ups from a physio to ensure there are no underlying problems or asymmetries that could affect your youngster’s start to ridden work.