Equine Thermography can highlight the following areas:
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Equine Thermography can be affected by artifacts (anomalies in the image) the following guidelines have been put together to ensure that the most accurate and easily interpreted images are taken.
- Your horse should be groomed, and feet picked out, but please don’t groom your horse within the 20 minutes prior to your consultation time. Grooming increases blood flow to the area. Don’t pull the mane or tail within the 24 hours prior to the consultation.
- Take off all bandages and boots 2 hours before your consultation; otherwise your horse’s legs will appear to be warmer than they are. Take off all rugs, if your horse must wear one, try to limit it to a travel rug, or cotton summer sheet and fasten the surcingle loosely.
- Your horse should be stabled for 2 hours before the consultation, unless stabling causes them to become agitated and stressed. Weaving or door banging will make the images of the front legs misleading. If this is the case, we can work around it, and your horse should remain turned out.
- Your horse must be mud-free, and completely dry. Mud and water block the emission of infrared, and affect the temperature measurements.
- Don’t use any coat conditioners, fly sprays, blisters, liniments, poultices, creams etc on the day of the consultation, unless under Veterinary direction.
- Make a note of any medications your horse is taking, and any herbal or homeopathic remedies and feed supplements. Any of these could have an effect on your horse’s circulation, and create a false positive. We’ll ask for these details at your consultation.
- Prepare an area suitable for imaging. This should be out of direct sunlight (the radiation from the sun will warm your horse and create falsely warm areas), and draughts (the breeze will ‘take away’ infrared radiation coming from your horse and make the area appear cooler). Ideal areas are; an indoor arena (don’t forget to book it), a closed barn, a foaling or large loose box with the bedding thrown up, or less ideally, a sheltered area of the yard. We can take the images in less than perfect conditions, but the resulting report won’t be as easy to interpret. Don’t be surprised if we ask you to turn the lights off, even the radiation from an incandescent light bulb can affect the images, and the thermal camera works just as well in the dark.
Finally, if the temperature is greater than 77°F your horse will naturally appear warmer as his capillary beds dilate and blood flow increases to cool him down. On hot summer days it is best to take images as early as possible in the morning, whilst your horse is still cool, or late in the evening. We avoid midday. External temperatures are always noted, and programmed into the camera and computer software used to analyze the images. This allows correction, and eliminates potential problems in interpreting images.
Equine Thermography can highlight the following areas:
Horse Back Problems & Pain
If your horse starts to display uncharacteristic tendencies such as dipping, flinching, biting when groomed or during tacking-up, exhibiting poor or reduced performance, unevenness or unleveled gaits, is crooked to ride, carries his tail to one side, bucking into canter or rearing or bucking when mounted, it may be due to pain under saddle.
Equine thermography can pinpoint where any issues are, allowing your chosen professional to administer a course of treatment targeted at the spot, enabling you to see results. Follow-up sessions can ensure your horse returns to work at the optimal time, and allow you to easily and graphically monitor the treatment progress. Many times, horses suffering from a bad back are actually symptoms of a secondary problem. Equine Thermography can help to identify the primary cause, so this can also be rectified.
Horse Ligaments & Tendons
Equine thermography is invaluable in detecting lesions in ligaments and tendons, and as an aid to optimizing recovery time, and getting your horse back to work as soon as possible and practicable.
But, there may be problems brewing even before you can see or feel anything.
Studies in horses have shown that equine thermography can detect tendon and ligament injuries up to three weeks before the horse would demonstrate any clinical symptoms.
When bringing a performance horse back into work, commencing fitness programs, or resuming jumping after a break in the season, equine thermography is an indispensable tool in ensuring early detection of problems.
Hoof Balance & Foot Problems
An incorrectly balanced foot can have extensive negative effects on the leg and back. Imaging the sole of the hoof, and the thermal patterns seen on the hoof wall when weight bearing quickly show whether the hoof is unbalanced. Areas where the hoof wall is longer are under more pressure and friction than the corresponding side and therefore show as a warmer area.
Inside the hoof, early abscess detection is possible, allowing pinpoint accuracy when draining. Equine thermography has proved a valuable tool in early research studies into the stages of laminitis.
Thermal imaging of the sole of the hoof, and the thermal patterns seen on the hoof wall when weight bearing; quickly show whether the hoof is unbalanced. The results of remedial farrier services can be seen just a few minutes after completion.
Horse Joint, Skeletal, And Nerve Problems
Very distinctive thermal patterns are present where joint injuries or degeneration is present, or has been present. There is initially an increase in blood flow, which presents as an increase in joint temperature. Over time the horse will stop using the joint and the inflammation will decrease, but the pain remains, and the joint appears cooler than previously. All of these subtle changes can be detected and monitored using equine thermography. Fractures, bone chips, early stage splints, ring bone, are all readily identified through Veterinary Thermal Imaging. Nerve problems can also be identified through our infrared assessments.
Horse Dental Problems
If your horse is fussy with his bit when ridden, exhibits a decline in body conditioning, or refuses to take the bit when tacked up, it could be a sign of dental problems. Equine thermography can quickly identify whether this is an issue. Dental pain correlates to an increased temperature, seen on the exterior of the mandible area. If this is an identified issue, hooks on the teeth, especially on the very backmost molars, can easily be floated by your vet or equine dentist to solve the problem. When a tooth dies it will present a cooler thermal pattern due to a lack of blood flow. If there is a need for dental equipment then your vet or equine dental technician can be engaged in our process.
Horse Muscle Problems & Injury
Muscular wasting (atrophy), abnormal muscle gain (hypertrophy), areas of muscle spasm, bruising, or muscular tears can all be identified using equine thermography. Our scans provide an understanding of normal, and abnormal muscle use through temperature variations seen in our reports. This helps in identifying compensatory and secondary problems.
The effect of changes to training regimens or ongoing physiotherapy treatment, amongst others, can be monitored with ongoing thermal imaging sessions to evaluate their effectiveness.
For horses who recommence a fitness program, or for horses who aren’t regularly ridden, thermal imaging allows supportive therapies to begin promptly, reducing cell and tissue damage.
Muscles damaged during trauma can also be detected, and appropriate therapies applied. Ongoing imaging during physiotherapy treatment, or prescriptive exercise regimes can provide valuable information into how well your horse is progressing.
Saddle Fitting & Rider Training
The correct fit of your saddle is paramount to our horse’s back, health, and performance. Many ‘problem’ horses are working under ill-fitting saddles, or with incorrectly fitted saddle pads. Problems such as bridging, saddles which are too narrow or wide, or unevenly flocked, can all be picked up with equine thermography.
When coupled with an image of the horse’s back, before and after exercise, you have a true view on whether your tack could be leading to or exacerbating problems. These images also prove invaluable in rider training, highlighting the rider who is in front or behind the movement, or sitting to one side.
A well-fitting saddle should distribute pressure evenly across your horse’s back. This is shown by a uniform temperature distribution across the saddle. When a saddle does not fit properly it causes pressure points resulting in a higher thermal pattern. We can work in conjunction with your master saddler to optimize the fit of your horse’s saddle. Many times a saddle may fit correctly but the rider, unknowingly, is riding unevenly. Positioning themselves more heavily to the left or right.
This can affect your horse’s back and is often very subtle, going unnoticed. By imaging your horse’s back along with the bottom of the saddle, before and after a schooling session, we can provide insight to your instructor on helping you become a more balanced rider.