Petra Sones is on Facebook and her FIT4POLO page shares some treatment results as well as a couple of articles previously published in the Polo Times and by the late Victoria Elsbury-Legg who wrote an article “From the Royal stables to the Sport of Kings”.
She is currently planning on sharing her time between the UK season and bringing the treatment to Spain when relocating October next year.
Championing Equine Athletes: FIT4POLO
Anyone serious about polo will know that the ponies take centre stage when it comes to performance.
A massive industry has sprung up around the sport, from Fashion to Specialised Equipment, but unlike other equine disciplines most polo ponies receive little or no consideration with regard to maintenance and rehabilitation.
Only the enlightened few have recognised the value of regular maintenance during the match season or during training of young horses coming into the sport from the race course or breeders.
Petra Sones (FIT4POLO) has set out to change this in her quest to offer an affordable mobile service and reintroduce Faradic Impulse Therapy as an alternative and/or complimentary treatment for hard working polo ponies after observing the successful treatment of an older polo pony on loan to her daughter when nothing else seemed to restore the mare to soundness.
As a result Petra became an inspired student of the treatment based on ‘Rhythmic Muscular Contraction’
which is based on common sense physiotherapy as muscle action already assists nature in the repair of injury due to the muscles capacity to contract and relax with all the benefits of increased blood flow, lymph and venous return. The treatment for humans was first placed on a scientific basis by Sir Morton Smart and the treatment for Equines was established after WWII by Sir Charles Strong, Physiotherapist to the British Royal Family, who was asked to help the treatment of not only the polo players but also their ponies.
He produced a machine he called the ‘Strong Box’ which was developed into the first Transeva machine. Results of treatments were published in the Veterinary Record where 88/100 lame performance horses were shown to be treated and able to successfully return to their relevant disciplines. After continuous optimisation the Transeva is still being manufactured in South Africa to date.
These days more and more thoroughbreds are used in polo and although the Criollo is hardier the speed element is very much an additional consideration for players, but thoroughbreds are more sensitive to Polo injuries that are mostly impact based leading to bruising, soreness and tight muscles with loss of form and restricted movement (short gait) as well as dipping of backs and unexplained recurring lameness. Rental ponies quite often display such symptoms due to inexperienced riders or heavy work load.
Faradic Impulse Therapy treatments are invaluable in not only treating but identifying injured areas which are clearly indicated by the horses pain responses (some more violent then others) and may not always be apparent by observing movement as most horses are extremely adept at using alternative muscles to avoid becoming lame, an instinctive reaction of a flight animal. This natural response to pain makes it even more important to check all the main muscles when treating a horse not only the area where an adverse reaction is observed.
A typical session always starts with the preparation of the treatment areas which are where the main muscle groups join and along the back.
The tolerance level of the patient is tested and during treatment continuously adjusted to keep pain responses to an absolute minimum, it is essential to maintain a connection even when the horse pulls away once the painful or tight muscles are identified and treatment invariably is concentrated in this area but needs to remain within the tolerance of the patient and can therefor not be rushed or healthy contractions will not commence, rendering treatment ineffective, needless to say that experience in handling the equipment and the Horse is essential for the operators health as the Equine patient will always win!
The treatment is not painful to healthy muscles or tissue but as the sensation of a relaxing pulse changes to a sharp jab at the injury site an adverse reaction is invariably to be expected and depending on the temperament of the patient can be excessive however the usual reaction is just a pulling away and turning down the intensity of the Transeva is sufficient to continue treatment.
Faradic Impulse Therapy is only making a slow come back in the UK as it is difficult to obtain and maintain the equipment needed and only sheer persistence and having seen the astonishing results of the treatment successes has maybe in a small way contributed to the fact that in the last few years attitudes to regular maintenance of polo ponies have slowly begun to change as more professionals and therefor some of their patrons have noticed that ponies that receive some form of additional treatment, be it regular checks by a vet, chiropractor, physios et al, keep playing better and longer with less injuries caused by the neglect of one of their main body structures:
The Muscles which support every joint and facilitate the equine performance required to become not “a machine” but a living breathing athlete giving their best and therefor deserving the best in this fast paced exhilarating sport we all love!