Theraplate Therapy Now Available!
We first saw these being used at equine therapy centers, then at top Thoroughbred training centers, and more recently at eventing and dressage barns everywhere. I am a huge skeptic when it comes to new gadgets that claim to solve your horses' problems.
At Rolex this year I stood on a TheraPlate calibrated for the weight of a human. The effect on me was hard to describe. It was as though I were getting a massage but that it was coming from the inside. I felt it most in my feet and lower legs but it also made me stand up straight and let the jiggling align my posture. The muscles in my calves felt thoroughly rejuvenated in less than one minute. I felt like blood was pumping and nerves were activated in places that had been asleep for a long time.
Naturally I wondered just how this thing would affect a horse. I knew that the manufacturer would claim it fixes everything, so I wasn't much interested in what the web site had to say. I wanted to put some horses in our barn on it. That's why it made so much sense to save Lisa Spillman and her crew at the TheraPlate booth the trouble of hauling this big sucker home. They were pushing it up the hill from the trade fair as I was driving down with my truck and trailer. A three week free trial period was an offer I couldn't resist.
The image I had in my mind was a horse in our barn that recently returned from his MRI with a diagnosis of navicular syndrome. The bones are fine but all that support structure inside the foot that is so hard to treat was basically just beat up from hard work. He was on stall rest to be followed by slow, controlled exercise for the summer. If the vibration of this plate could create subtle movement in those feet like it did mine it could only promote healing. All animals, particularly horses, are designed to move. Without movement we atrophy.
I also wanted to put the horse on it who is eventing Training level but has screws and arthritis in his hind ankle. He starts out uneven some days and then it loosens up and he's sound. Maybe that wiggling and jiggling would break up some of the crud in his ankle, or at least keep it from hardening into bone growth that limits his movement.
We have twenty horses in training and who knows which ones are freezing up in their joints, losing elasticity in their tendons, or feeling a tad sore in their feet? Maybe this thing has real value in a barn like ours.
Here is our experience so far. Horses react differently. Stranger lowers his head, licks his lips, and has an expression of interest, like he's listening to something within himself. Banks is less trusting. He stands but has a slightly worried look. Some of the young two year olds stand better on the plate than in the grooming stall without it. One horse who always pinned his ears and sometimes snapped when the girth was buckled expressed no displeasure at girthing after standing on the plate. Whether the horses are sounder and more comfortable is hard to say. They do seem to start out more ready to work and "in the zone" when they stand on the plate before riding. The ones on stall rest certainly benefit. How can they not? To me it's like a whirlpool or a massage. We know that they increase circulation, promote overall health, and feel good but can't always say how that helps to heal specific injuries.
Based on all of this we are going ahead and making the investment. The TheraPlate will remain at Dodon and be available for horses in training. We will seek to recover the investment and the time it takes for our staff to handle the horses during treatment with the following fees:
- Boarders, self-serve access - $100/month
- Horses in training or boarders, Dodon handles, 5 sessions per week - $200/month
- Ship-in sessions self-serve access - $20 (packages negotiable)
Contact Erin or Steuart if you are interested in trying the theraplate out for your horse.