Horse owner use of dynamic mobilisation exercises, training aids and massage for kissing spines surgery rehabilitation

Jenny Paddison, Hope Randle

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Introduction: Kissing spines (KS) is a condition that effects the thoracolumbar vertebrae in horses that can cause pain as the space between the vertebrae narrows (Prisk and Garcia-Lopez., 2019). Following surgery for KS, owners employ modalities including dynamic mobilisation exercises (DME’s), training aids and massage. The aim of this study was to ascertain if owners used these specific rehabilitation modalities and what their perceptions of these modalities were. This was achieved by quantifying the proportion of horses rehabilitated using DME’s, training aids and massage. Furthermore, the relationship between the use of these modalities and prevalence of secondary lameness was investigated.
Material & Methods: Data were collected through a wider online survey which had 142 respondents. However, the sample size obtained from the survey questions relevant to this study was 58. Quantitative responses were analysed using frequency analyses and Chi-square tests. Qualitative data were subjected to thematic analysis to derive themes on owner perception of rehabilitation activities. Quantitative data was exported into SPSS statistics from Microsoft Excel.
Results: Findings from the survey indicated 56.9% (n= 33) of respondents used DME’s, 55.2% (n=32) used massage and 81% (n=47) used training aids during rehabilitation. There was no significant association found between the use of DME’s, training aids and massage and prevalence of secondary lameness post-surgery. A Chi-squared test of association was performed for each rehabilitation modality in relation to secondary lameness. For DME’s there was no significant association found (X²(1, n=56) = 0.742, p= 0.389) (See Fig.1). Themes derived from the thematic analysis included positive physical changes; horse and owner bond; and possible misuse and previous decisions.
Discussion & Conclusion: From this study, it was clear that the use of DME’s, training aids and massage did not impact prevalence of secondary lameness. This study focused on horse-owner use of rehabilitation modalities rather than professional use which may lead to different results compared with previous studies such as Wilson et al., (2018) that found 83.3% of respondents used ‘stretching’ with respondents being either veterinary surgeons or rehabilitation professionals. Whereas in this study, only 56.9% of horse-owners used DME’s. The results from this study show that horse-owners may not be consistent in maintaining rehabilitation practices which may impact the effectiveness of modalities from having a positive rehabilitative outcome. From the thematic analysis, DME’s and training aids were found to ‘improve muscle development’ however owners found them to be ‘time consuming’. There was a lack of knowledge on the use of massage therapy and surrounding the correct use of training aids. A common theme was also a lack of advice from veterinary surgeons/physiotherapists on how to use these modalities correctly during the rehabilitation process. Phrases such as, ‘vet advised the Pessoa, physio advised against’ indicated conflicting advice. The results from this study agree with findings from previous studies, highlighting a need for increased owner-education and involvement from veterinary surgeons/physiotherapists during rehabilitation. Additionally, further research is needed on the use of rehabilitation modalities following KS surgery (Sayers and Tabor, 2022).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2023
EventAlltech Hartpury Student Conference 2023 - Hartpury University
Duration: 10 May 202310 May 2023


ConferenceAlltech Hartpury Student Conference 2023


  • Rehabilitation modalities
  • Lameness
  • physiotherapy
  • Thoracolumbar pain


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