There's been a lot of talk on health programmes about the human gut 'microbiome' and how an imbalance can adversely affect the immune system, sleep, anxiety, and weight, . In fact some claim that it's an even bigger influence on our health than our genes. For a long time many 'alternative' practitioners have been telling us that the basis of all health begins in the gut but now, at last, the health industry at large is putting a lot of research into this area and discovering connections to different ailments all the time. For instance, last year scientists made a link between gut health and brain health. So, why shouldn't it be exactly the same for our equine friends?
Fortunately, many vets and owners are more aware of ulcers and how easily, through stress or diet, horses are prone to getting them. This has been a really positive move forward for horse welfare, but now it's time for the gastrointestinal microbiome to become the hot topic in equine health.
Forward thinking vets and scientists are claiming that research into the gastrointestinal microbiome could be a real game-changer. An imbalance in horses has been linked to colic, laminitis, obesity, metabolic problems, Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO) and behavioural problems but scientists think that there is still more to be discovered.
To prevent and treat disease and improve mental and physical wellbeing for both horses and humans means a two-pronged approach. Firstly, research is being done on manipulating pre and probiotics to improve the gut microbiome. Secondly, they are looking at what causes an imbalance in the first place. For horses, this means looking into horse management, such as feeding, grazing and particularly stress, which is known to upset the balance of the microbiome. Also, research has been carried out into the affect of intense exercise on the equine intestinal microbiome.
Archie’s health is of the upmost importance to me and so getting him seen by an equine physio who I trusted was one of the very first things I did when he joined our family. I was incredibly lucky that Samamtha Bardill-Bobyn was already looking after many horses locally and she has been keeping Archie in tip top shape ever since. She has been working for the past seven years as a veterinary physiotherapist, lending her healing hands and knowledge to both horses and dogs. Sammy started out in physiotherapy after completing her degree in animal science and further training with competition horses, giving her impressive breadth and depth of knowledge. Her rapidly expanding business is juggled with lecturing in equine physiology and anatomy, working with veterinary physio students, spending time with her family and riding her gorgeous mare Ruby. Despite her busy schedule Sammy is always happy to help, and goes out of her way to support her clients, turning up at the drop of a hat in an emergency and investing both time and emotion in their horses.
This is the first of many blogs which will feature Sammy's advice, but to start with I asked her what her top tips to the everyday rider would be, for keeping their horses in the best musculoskeletal condition possible;
We can all be guilty of forgetting about our saddles, thinking we had it checked last month when it was actually a year ago. Horses change shape and keeping your saddle fitting correctly is vital in keeping your horse comfortable.
A horse’s impulsion comes from its hindquarters, and to be working powerfully and effectively their abdominal muscles and core need to be strong. This allows them to work over their backs and lift up to support themselves.
Flexibility and suppleness mean that the horse can move freely and without restriction. This freedom of movement helps avoid stiffness and tension creeping in. Simple exercises such as a carrot stretches to the side and between the front legs help to improve both flexion and core strength. Think of it like Pilates for horses.
I am overjoyed to announce that Sammy and I have come together in a new partnership this year, and as I would have always recommended her services, without a moment’s hesitation, I am delighted to now be able to represent her and her business. On top of this we will be bringing you blogs featuring her tips and advice on how to keep your horse healthy throughout the year.
Learn more about Sammy at: http://www.facebook.com/sambardillvetphysio/
As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog