Keeping a racehorse in competitive shape is a team effort at its best. A coach, veterinarian, farrier, massage therapist and many other professionals work together and do everything they can to ensure that the racehorse is fit and well. Muscle care is essential for keeping a horse in competitive shape – laser therapy is particularly effective at enhancing it.
I have the honour of being part of the team caring for Deep Blue Font, a four-year-old stallion owned by Erge Reinvald and Sipi Erkkilä. I have applied laser therapy to Deep Blue Font’s muscles on a regular basis – at intervals of about 10-14 days – for over a year now.
Thanks to the results, our whole team is convinced of the benefits of laser therapy. We even carried out a small test to check laser therapy's effect on Deep Blue Font’s performance. We took a break of just over a month from the laser therapy – during this time, we continued to give Blue Font massages and craniosacral therapy.
However, Erge asked me to restart the laser therapy even before the agreed test period ended. Although Deep Blue Font still performed well, he fell slightly short of peak performance. He didn’t give it all he had.
In our opinion, the test showed that Deep Blue Font needs regular laser therapy to remain in optimal competitive shape.
The life of a professional athlete
Before starting laser therapy, I always feel the muscles of the horse and examine how the horse reacts to palpation. Each therapy session is thus based on the needs for care – I also discuss these with the owner and/or coach.
I give Deep Blue Font regular laser therapy of the lumbar, shoulder blade and chest muscle areas, as well as the lowest, or “seventh” vertebra of the neck. These are areas that can easily become strained and jammed when training and racing.
One form of training is the use of a resistance cart, which places the horse under the same kind of stress as people experience during a weight training session. The muscles become sore and might be tight after training.
I remember that when I first treated Deep Blue Font’s lumbar area, his muscles started trembling all the way to the withers as they relaxed. It was impressive. I could see and feel the effects of the therapy.
Also, to our surprise, laser therapy of the lumbar area has helped out with shoeing. Earlier, it was challenging to shoe Deep Blue Font’s hind legs – strain in the lumbar area meant that he found it unpleasant to stand with his foot raised. After starting laser therapy, shoeing has gone well.
Should we apply “Riitta Väisänen”?
If the muscles of the horse being treated are really sore, I usually start out with the Nogier frequency 1168 Hz, which stimulates the cells and relieves pain. That same frequency works for my own neck and shoulder pain, too.
I use higher frequencies – 15,000 or 20,000 Hz – if I find heat, swelling or surface soreness in the joints. I also often use “Riitta Väisänen” – our team’s nickname for 10,000 Hz. Riitta is a Finnish actress and equestrian who hosted a gameshow called Ten Thousand. It amuses us to ask each other whether we should apply “Väisänen” today.
It’s an effective frequency, especially for Deep Blue Font’s lumbar area. Of course, we assess each therapy session individually.
Not all horses can handle high frequencies during their first therapy session. If the horse finds laser therapy unpleasant, it shies away and becomes restless. Then we have to discontinue using that frequency or lower it to a level that the horse no longer finds uncomfortable. The aim of laser therapy is to relax the horse: so that it lowers its head, becomes drowsy and starts closing its eyes.
The next objective: the Great Finnish Derby
The only actual injury that I’ve treated involved the rear hock – due to this, Deep Blue Font couldn’t use his sore leg properly.
The injury occurred in summer 2021, only a few months before Kriterium, the main event of the year. The veterinarian prescribed a five-day course of anti-inflammatory medication for the rear hock – I then started applying laser therapy to the injured area during the regular muscle condition laser therapy.
The therapy paid off – Deep Blue Font came second in the Kriterium qualification round and made it into the finals.
After the competition season, we took an ultrasound of his leg. The veterinarian concluded that there was no further need for the treatment of the hock and no scar tissue had formed.
On behalf of our entire team, I dare say that laser therapy is an important cornerstone in keeping Deep Blue Font in competitive shape. Now our whole team is working to make sure that Deep Blue Font will be in the best possible shape to compete in the Great Finnish Derby in September 2022 in Vermo.
It’s great to be part of the Deep Blue Font team and enable a pro athlete to enjoy his sport with even fewer aches and pains.
Laser therapist Tiina Mansikkaniemi is an experienced horseracing enthusiast. Her desire to help horses was sparked when her own two-year-old racehorse was badly injured. The colt fought through rehabilitation, but eventually, a difficult decision had to be made: there was no choice but to put him down. Now, as a sideline, Tiina helps other horses with laser therapy.