Be Proactive to Ensure Peak Thoroughbred Performance

Why do we wait until a horse is injured before we start to use the latest therapeutic tools in an attempt to get him back to the races? We need to realize that the simple act of running 40mph while only turning left is going to cause problems over time, as that is the nature of sport – human or equine.

I have written about this concept in the past with the Niagara Equissage saddle here: and today I am going to speak about another exciting modality: photobiostimulation via cold laser treatment.

To truly be effective, lasers must be of the Class IV variety and able to deeply penetrate tissues. How do you know if you have a class IV laser in your barn? Look at the price tag, if under $20,000 you don’t have such a device and are not getting the necessary depth of stimulation.

According to Ron Riegel, DVM cold lasers work by the following method: “The photochemical response includes a cascade of biochemical events in the cell. This actually causes the cell to go into hyper-drive, with an increase in cellular metabolism and cellular respiration rate. The photons, when they are absorbed by the mitochondria of the cell, produce more ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and increase the energy level of the cell.”

Again, this blog is all about improving athletic performance, not treating an injury after the fact – that’s the job of a rehab center. The basic premise of any sport is to perform repeated movements with a high degree of force. This causes imbalances throughout the athlete. A trainer will often be heard to exclaim how sound his horse is, but the truth of the matter is that EVERY horse in training is off in some way, shape, or form. This is by no means an indictment on the horsemanship skills of the conditioner; it’s just a result of the game.

Photobiostimulation via cold laser is unique in that it treats the animal at the cellular level, and its benefits last several days after one hour-long treatment session. The most common quantified evidence is the lack of heat in previously sore areas, or no longer needing to inject a joint as it begins to produce its own healthy synovial fluid.

More from Dr. Rigel:           

I picked a horse that hadn’t won anything. It had a sore back and was in training and shouldn’t have been. I’d bought my first thermograph, so we hooked it up live to this horse and watched it as we did the laser therapy. The temperature of the area immediately dropped when we did this, and I thought that in a matter of just a few minutes it would go right back to where it was. The trainer and I watched it, then went for a cup of coffee and came back and thermographed the horse again after the guy left with the laser, and the horse was even better,” he says. The heat in that area was still gone.

“We trained the horse all week, and this beneficial effect lasted about 4 days, after just one treatment. That really got my attention.”

I Am Laserman

Steve Bourmas is the leading expert on cold laser use in American racing thoroughbred and standardbreds, treating such stars of the sport as Blind Luck, Dakota Phone, Indian Winter, and Iam Bonasera

Steve goes by the name ‘Laserman’ at the track and is using this device unlike anyone else. He spends anywhere from days to weeks to months getting a horse ‘right’ – but then the real problems begin, as many horses become so healthy that they are able to run further and faster than ever before – opening up a whole new chance to get injured with their ‘new’ bodies and minds.

Congrats to Steve and his extremely forward-thinking owner who sees the need to keep his horses in optimal shape with regular therapeutic treatments BEFORE they are needed at the farm or rehabilitation facility.

Steve and I will get together here in June 2011 with my mare in training named A Special Delivery:

As you can see to date she has delivered nothing special whatsoever as an Indiana-bred who failed to even generate a Beyer in half of her 8 lifetime starts to date. Can Laserman get her to the winners circle after just a few treatments? Stay tuned…


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on June 24, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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