Case Study: Willow’s Journey, Part 2

3 months after initial treatment

This is the second part of Willow’s journey to recovery. In the first part we looked at her initial assessment and what issues Willow has in regards to lameness. In this second part we are looking at Willow’s initial treatment and continued treatment over three months.


To start with we didn’t want to overload Willow physically and mentally so treatment was started very slowly and gently to make her more comfortable and activate muscles. In Willow’s case less is more and she is a very expressive individual during treatment allowing me as a therapist to read when she has had enough and the areas that need work.

Willow is very responsive to acupressure points so treatment began with Bladder 25 to help strengthen her lower back and address any pain or stiffness in this area. Willow responded in a positive way by relaxing and lowering her head towards the ground with very soft eyes. She almost feel asleep. This then allowed me to massage through her hindquarters to release tension. Her neck and poll were also released as well as her inner thigh. This helped to increase tone and activation through the quadriceps and tensor fascia latae.

To help strengthen and activate the quadriceps and TFL five gentle dock rocks were included on both sides to finish the initial treatment session off.

From the above treatment Willow showed improvements in a number of ways these included;

  • Increased tone in TFL and quadriceps
  • Increased muscle activation
  • Less sensitivity through her back and hindqaurters
  • Movement was easier but still showed signs of lameness

The initial treatment achieved its goals in that Willow was more comfortable and began to activate muscles that would help her through her recovery.

Subsequent Treatment

Initially it was planned that Willow would receive two or more treatments a week that were short, but targeted the areas that needed work. For about two weeks this was achieved, however we then went into lockdown 1. Luckily we were expecting this so a contingency plan was put in place. During the first two weeks I took the time to teach Willow’s owner how to do the acupressure points that Willow was finding beneficial and all the exercises.

In the subsequent treatment sessions with Willow we introduced some more acupressure points which included Bladder 21, which helps with atrophy, back pain and general weakness. Each treatment session we then added another acupressure point in this order Bladder 11 (helps strengthen bones and joints, nourishes and facilitates blood flow, benefits joint problems and also helps neck and spinal pain), Bladder 19 (helps with hip pain), and Bladder 23 (helps with general weakness, lower back pain and estrous cycle). Willow responded well to all these points.

Willow also received deep tissue massage to her back, neck and hindquarters to help relax and activate muscles in each treatment session. Willow responded well to the initial two weeks of treatment. Willow was also slowly introduced to some exercises


On the initial treatment dock rocks were included, belly lifts were introduced on the second appointment to encourage activation of her core muscles allowing more support thorough her back. Weight shift was also added through her shoulder. Along with the dock rocks these exercises encouraged Willow to start to use her core muscles to stabilise herself.

In the first two weeks Willow was also introduced to foot pads to again encourage stabilisation through muscle activation and help with proprioception. To get Willow used to the pads one was placed under her forefoot once she was comfortable with this is was transferred onto her hindfoot. At this stage only one pad was used at a time. Willow chose the duration to stay on the pad, which was usually a couple of minutes.

Willow using a footpad for stability work

After the two weeks under guidance Willow’s owner progressed the exercises gradually. The introduction of walking over a pole in a straight line occurred during lockdown. As Willow became stronger this was progressed to a figure of 8 over the pole. It took about three weeks after initial assessment to get to this point.

Willow’s owner continued with the acupressure points, exercises and pole work. By week four a second pole was introduced in straight line work and then in week five a raised pole was introduced. Straight line trotting was introduced at week six and in week 7 three poles on a circle were added with no detrimental affects. Willow is kept on a track during the summer months so obstacles that she has to step over were also incorporated into her environment. This encourages Willow to use her body more and reduces the amount of in hand work Willow’s owner needs to do with her.

Other Changes

During this time Willow’s diet was also assessed and adjusted. To help gain weight and muscle Willow was moved onto Copra and Speedi-beet mixed with seaweed, brewers yeast, alfalfa and chaff. The alfalfa was gradually phased out and replaced with Agrobs Leichengrass. These changes occurred to reduce any inflammation that might be occurring in her body, which is turn helps develop strong hoofs as well as helping her gain condition.

During Willow’s rehab she gradually got more turnout and by week 3 was back to normal turnout. The dry weather help harden the ground so Willow did not have to deal with the mud. Her Bute was also gradually reduced and was on 24/7 turnout within a month.

Below is a video of Willow’s walk up after 3 months rehabilitation

Willow’s walk after 3 months rehab

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