International Association of Animal Therapists
Case Study


A Horse Kicked in the Chest Quite Badly

A dark brown, 15hh, American quarter horse. He had been bought as a weanling and given time to mature. He was sent away as a 4-year-old to be backed and brought on. He got kicked in 2017 on the chest quite badly. The vet was involved and said it just had to be left. His owner also gave him homeopathic remedies to help with this crisis and healing.  I saw this horse in 2018 when this had completely healed. His compensation pattern from this kick, which had actually split the muscle, was massive. Plus, as a sensitive boy, he was getting very difficult to ride. This injury was truly affecting his behaviour and his owner, who is very in tune with him was very worried. He was bucking, kicking out, and taking off, both on the lunge and ridden.

This horse lives out 24 hours a day 12 months of the year.

In Feb 2018 we started a course of EMRT treatments.

I assessed this horse on the lunge as he had become too difficult to ride at this current time.  The chest injury had affected his whole body. He was unable to turn his neck left and would stand and point with his left fore. He was dis-united behind in canter on the lunge. When on the right rein, he would take off with his head up and set in a straight line. He had shortened and contracted his abdominals on the right side causing a pelvis drop on the right side. He also contracted the trapezius and rhomboids on the right side hoiking the shoulder high. Latissimus Dorsi was implicated as was the neck. He was out of balance with his head tilted to the right.

This client lives over 100 miles from me so weekly treatments were not feasible. He had had EMRT treatments as a 3-year-old, prior to being backed so was used to the therapy.

First Treatment February 2018

Second Treatment March 2018 – This horse had improved in his behaviour and I found his left ascending pectoral and transverse pectoral to be very sore around the scar and muscle.  He had stopped running off on the lunge, but we discussed staying off his back and just concentrating on groundwork, stretching, and lunging. He was still disunited in canter on the right rein.

The treatment consisted of extra pelvis moves plus pectoral moves. He was still struggling to turn his head/neck to the left at all. When treating the left abdominals, he let out a big sigh. The fascia in the Rectus Abdominus links up to the Posterior Pectorals linking up to the transverse and superficial/ascending pectorals.

Third Treatment April 2018 - His hind end and pecs had softened but he was still disunited and contracted between his pelvis and last ribs on the right side, therefore the treatment was geared towards the neck, thoracics, and TMJ. He was significantly overbuilt on the left side brachiocephalic and sternomandibular. Therefore, treating this felt like the correct approach as the TMJ and hyoid have a significant effect on the pelvis.

This horse following these 3 treatments continued to improve and was back being ridden and schooled. He has regular 6 – 8 weekly treatments.  He still has a compensation pattern from the chest injury and during training as an Equine Mcloughlin Scar Tissue Release therapist in 2019, I asked the owner’s permission to use him as a case study to see if we could get any further improvement.  This therapy is geared directly to the scar.

As a young horse who was still developing when this injury happened (I have seen this on a number of occasions) they are growing and developing at the same time, therefore, their compensation pattern is much greater than a fully developed 8/9-year-old.

The pictures (as you will see) have made a massive difference to him. The fascia affected by the scar had contracted so much it was pulling him up in a dorsal direction. When let down it widened and allowed the chest back into a more normal position. We can’t take the injury away but he is so much more comfortable and able to work so long as we keep helping him with regular treatments. Therefore, I combine MSTR with either EMRT or MFR during his regular treatments, depending on which symptoms are presenting on the day. I have also treated the medial twist in his left foreleg that had been affected by the injury.  The owner was unaware of red light/ laser therapy which I feel would have helped the healing process if used in the early stages.

Prior to MSTR - note you can hardly see the scar it’s so sucked up

You can see the contraction and indent from the scar in the pectoral muscle from this side view.

This is after 2 MSTR treatments. You can see the change in the quality of the fascia and tissue. This has allowed blood supply and nutrients to the area which has changed its texture and function. Due to the pectorals widening the trapezius and rhomboids have stopped being contracted as well.  In fact, the whole thoracic sling has changed!!

A case study conducted by IAAT Member Sue Connolly (member number 1293)

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