The horse has considerable athletic capacity and is capable of impressive feats of speed, endurance and strength. The equine muscular system plays a critical role in these feats and has evolved to develop characteristics that produce these powerful and efficient movements at high speeds. Despite the remarkable capability of equine muscle, there are numerous conditions that may affect muscle and its function.
A history of stiffness, muscle cramping, pain, muscle fasciculations, exercise intolerance, weakness or muscle atrophy may all implicate an underlying muscle disorder. Depending on the underlying disorder, the outcome may vary from a subtle reduction in performance to a life threatening condition. Ultimately it should be remembered that an underlying muscle disorder or myopathy may be involved in a case that presents to a rehabilitation practitioner and that specific therapies for many of these muscular disorders exist.
In this lecture series Dr. Anna Firshman explains how equine muscle disorders are classified, and a detailed description of a selection of the more common muscle disorders that might present to the equine rehabilitation practitioner is given.
Muscle plays a critical part in a horse’s performance capability. There are numerous conditions in horses that may affect the muscle and its function.
Part 1 of this 2 part series catagorizes the different types of muscle diseases in horses and the causes of atrophy in non-exercise related Rhabdomyolysis
Part 2 of this 2 part series covers exercise related Rhabdomyolysis
Dr. Anna Firshman is an associate clinical professor of large animal medicine at the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she teaches and works in the Large Animal Hospital, seeing internal medicine cases of all large animal species. She received her veterinary degree from Liverpool University, England in 1999 and became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2003. She completed a PhD in 2005 involving the study of muscle disease in horses at the University of Minnesota and then joined the faculty at Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She became a charter member of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in 2010. Dr. Firshman has a special interest in equine exercise physiology, conditioning and rehabilitation therapy and received her certificate in equine rehabilitation from the University of Tennessee. She is particularly interested in the use of rehabilitation techniques in the care of horses affected by neurologic and muscular diseases. Her research interests center around equine neuromuscular disease and the effects of underwater treadmill exercise in horses.