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Kirsten Johnson

Horses as Athletes: Rehabilitation & Therapy

Posted: July 2017
Length: 03:52
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Watch KESMARC owner Kirsten Johnson discuss rehabilitation of the equine athlete and offer do-it-yourself alternatives to some simple treatments at home

About This Video

In an era when many horses and ponies can compete year-round, the challenge is keeping them conditioned and healthy over the long term. If an animal does sustain an injury, it's also important to rehabilitate him in a safe, controlled environment until he's ready to resume normal work. In this video, Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center (KESMARC) owner Kirsten Johnson talks you through

  • The purpose of rehab and conditioning
  • Common injuries
  • Types of treatments
  • Home remedies

Fortunately, today's equine performer can benefit both from advanced veterinary care and from an impressive array of therapeutic options and technologies, from swimming pools to hyperbaric oxygen chambers. In this video, Johnson discusses such options as underwater treadmills, also known as "aqua-treads"; the benefits of swimming; cold water treatments; and more.

Johnson also touches on a host of specialist therapies, including

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic therapy
  • Physical therapy

About The Expert

Kirsten Johnson
Owner, KESMARC

California native Kirsten Johnson is the founder and owner of Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center (KESMARC) in Versailles, Kentucky. With more than 20 years of experience serving the rehabilitation and sports medicine needs of top equine athletes, Johnson has worked with everything from Kentucky Derby winners, Olympic medalists, and national/world champions in various breeds and disciplines to beloved family horses whose sentimental values are priceless.

Johnson and her team offer the latest technologies in equine rehabilitation while working closely with each horse’s management team and veterinarian to develop an exercise/rehabilitation and nutrition plan tailored to each horse as an individual. Johnson operated the second equine hyperbaric oxygen chamber in the world, using it for equine medical use as well as therapeutic applications, and was also a driving force behind the development of aqua-tread therapy. In addition, KESMARC’s facility features a cold saltwater spa, equine swimming pool, indoor non-concussive walking/jogging ring, vibrating platform, and more.

“Equine rehabilitation is key for equine athletes of all disciplines to return to their same level of performance,” said Johnson. “Without utilizing the therapies necessary to heal, there is an increased chance of re-injury. You would not consider doing orthopedic surgery on a human athlete without post-op rehab; the same goes for the equine athlete.”