So, you’ve decided your equine athlete deserves additional support, but where to start? With so many options, it might be hard to decide what therapies are right to incorporate for your horse. Before you factor in your budget, size, or style, let’s simplify the basics; what modality is right for your horse?
What is Modality and why should it be your first decision?
In terms of therapy, ‘modality’ refers to the method of treatment. PEMF, LLLT, and FIR are all acronyms referring to different methods of targeting treatment areas on your horse. Knowing which modality you’re interested in is the best way to narrow down your therapy equipment search. We’ve broken these down for you below and have examples of these types of equipment!
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF)
You’ll often hear this referred to as P.E.M.F. Therapy in the equine world, and it’s been a popular choice among horse owners and trainers. PEMF systems are fantastic at increasing circulation across the body, or in localized areas, depending on how they are used. Companies will offer information regarding HZ output, and also Gauss or Teslas. According to the 2023 FEI Guidelines, PEMF machines are only permitted if they operate below 0.1 Tesla (1000 Gauss). For this reason, it’s good to know what the PEMF machine you’re looking at is capable of generating. We like to think about these in terms of low intensity and high intensity units.
Blankets Offer Wearable Combination Treatments
Low intensity units offer lots of benefits and overall wellness improvement for your horse. They can be used before or after rides to make sure your horse is properly warmed up. Plus they are great for our aging companions and to promote recovery after a big effort. Sport Innovations offers hands-free blankets that are extremely customizable. They offer multiple programs in different frequency settings, and they’re very easy to use. If you’re looking for therapeutic solutions, treating the individual is important. The Sport Innovation ProSeries 3 in 1 Blanket offers PEMF and Massage and Heat, which can be combined in programs or used individually. Since the blanket is manufactured to operate below 0.1 Tesla, you’ll find this is a great option for internationally competitive horses. But believe us, your pasture pal will also love the spa-like sessions!
Targeted, Adjustable PEMF
An example of machines that offer a higher gauss output are MagnaWave systems. These units use attachments in different styles to help you target areas of indication in your horse. The frequency and output are controlled with a dial. While you can still move across your horse’s whole body, these attachments and higher output options also help you target more specific areas.
It’s important that with a higher output machine, you consider there will be more training required to operate it safely. MagnaWave offers a certification for $1,000 that comes free with a machine purchase. If their units are out of reach, you can find certified practitioners to do sessions on your horse. We love the versatility of these machines and if you’re a horse owner with other pets, it’s good to know that MagnaWave (and many other PEMF therapies) can safely be used on many different types of animals.
Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT), Far Infrared, and Lasers are all examples of types of light therapy. When deciding which makes the most since, it’s important to think about what your treatment area is, and what else you’ve included in that treatment plan?
If you’ve hired a veterinarian to do laser treatments, for example, you may be able to incorporate some at home treatments in between the veterinarian’s high-level sessions. This provides consistency and can even improve the efficacy of your other treatments. Red Light Therapy is a fantastic supplemental therapy modality to incorporate in plans in between laser sessions or in combination with PEMF sessions. Studies have shown that red lights can help stimulate cellular regeneration and improve the production of ATP. These types of molecular changes are the building blocks to systemic health, which makes this therapy great to incorporate in conjunction with many other treatment programs. A great feature of red-light therapy and low-level light therapy is that you can find hand’s free options!
Hanging Light Therapy
Incorporating a Solarium is a fantastic way to reap the benefits of light therapy without tying up precious time during the day. Solarium’s can be hung over a grooming stall and used during grooming sessions or while you’re tacking up. They provide the fantastic benefit of reducing warm up times which is especially helpful in cold environments. Our favorite thing about solariums, however, is their ability to reduce DRYING times. So, in a busy barn, when your horse has had a bath and is taking up space in the crossties, a Solarium not only offers skin, coat, mood, and cellular regeneration benefits, but your horse will dry quicker at the same time! Learn more about Solariums HERE.
Hands-Free Red Light
If a Solarium is out of reach, these hands-free Red Light options from RevitaVet may be a great solution. They run on batteries and have a simple on/off switch. RevitaVet Red Lights and Lasers can be used in the crossties while you’re getting your horse ready or during a grooming session. Use them in the stall for horses on layup but be sure to tie your horse up or be close by so that they don’t damage your new equipment. RevitaVet also offers a hands-free Class II Laser called the IR2. This is a fantastic option if the area you’re trying to affect is deeper tissue or has been especially difficult. While not as strong as a Class 3B laser, you won’t find that in a hands-free option! View RevitaVet’s various red-light therapy and Class II lasers HERE.
A Different Class of Laser
Class 3B Cold Shower Lasers are a fantastic addition to a performance horse facility. These lasers are more targeted and powerful than other light therapies, but are safe to use on FEI horses without worrying about withdrawal times or practitioner licenses! Read more about the FEI Regulations HERE. These handheld devices are stronger than other light therapy options. Know that you will have to wear protective glasses to use them, and you won’t have a hands-free option. While this does mean that you’ll have to spend time dedicated to this therapy, they’re generally short sessions. Plus most of the options on the market today have easy to use LCD screens or displays. Check out the Sport Innovations Class 3B Cold Shower Laser, which features an easy on/off button, timer, and comes complete with glasses and a charging cable. It’s lightweight, chord free, and we love that it’s less than $1,000.
When selecting any therapy device, especially if you’re incorporating it into a treatment program, it’s important to consult with your vet. They will help determine the frequency of the treatment and proximity to veterinarian sessions, to ensure the safety and health of your horse.
Not all cold therapy is created equal! Ice boots have long been the standard for Cold Therapy but there are new options that bring offer additional, exciting benefits. The first thing worth mentioning is that Cold Therapy is an important type of therapy, it’s often your first line of defense against acute injury; minimizing inflammation can be a crucial first step depending on the problem. Always consult a veterinarian, but in the case that you need immediate cold, it’s important to have options on hand.
No Ice Cubes Necessary
Ice boots have been updated to include options that don’t require an ice machine on hand (or ones that do, if getting a bag of ice is more convenient than relying on a freezer or portable freezer/cooler). If you do have a freezer option, companies like Ice Horse have a ton of Ice Wrap designs that use cold packs. Having lots of these inexpensive Cold Packs stored in your freezer will allow you to act quickly, or to incorporate them into your regular program for multiple horses. Their unique designs include wraps for hard-to-reach places like your horse’s back or stifles. They also have an ice boot, allowing you to avoid the old-school ice bucket! This is great if you’re trying to avoid the amount of moisture your horse’s hooves receive.
Not Your Mother’s Ice Boots
Another exciting innovation to ice boots is the incorporation of compression elements. This ice and squeeze option is great at moving fluid back up the leg. It also helps to protect against swelling and inflammation. EquiFit has a new hand operated option called IceAir Cold Therapy Boots, you hand pump air into the boots to create compression. These use ice cubes, so if you don’t have a freezer available, they’re a great alternative to ice packs. The GelCompression boots from Equifit do use re-freezable ice packs. Opt for this style if avoiding melting ice cubes is on your checklist.
Old School Therapy Meets New School Technology
For something a little different, AmericaCryo offers a cold-water compression machine. This type of machine has been available in human sports medicine for some time, harnessing the power of cycled, repeated compression in tandem with very cold water. Unlike ice, the water can sit very tight against your horse’s legs. These machines allow you to customize sessions based on your horse’s needs, and have memory settings that make it easy to create a consistent program.
Of course, these are just a few types of therapy modalities and systems. At FarmVet we value the unique needs of every horse and individual. For help finding equipment that best suits your program, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At FarmVet, we offer therapy solutions for more than just your horses! Learn about Light Therapy for your pets HERE.