Michael Bryant is renowned in Victoria as one of the most sought-after equine (and occasionally canine!) chiropractors, but this isn’t what he calls himself, preferring the humble title of “muscle man” – a term derived from the greyhound industry where he learnt his craft, and has further developed his skills over the past 40 years, following in the footsteps of his legendary father – greyhound trainer Ned Bryant – a pioneer in his field and later inducted into the Australian Greyhound Racing Hall of Fame for his Chiropractic work.
These days Michael spends 99% of his time working on horses, and notably treated the champion Black Caviar throughout her racing career, including her successful trip to Royal Ascot.
I was fortunate enough to meet Michael recently, and asked him to share some tips and advice on keeping horses in peak condition…
Kylie: What are the most common problems you encounter in horses?
Michael: The most common problems that I find are torn and strained muscles.
Kylie: What would be a recommended rehab program for these issues and follow up?
Michael: Suggested treatment for these injuries are usually therapeutic ultrasound, combined with changing their exercise routine, whether it be backing off their work or using a water walker to keep them ticking over without losing too much fitness. Equissage also plays a role in helping to treat injured muscles but in my opinion it is better used as a preventative measure by warming the muscles up pre-work. It is a good idea to have your horse examined by a reputable person when it first goes into work and if it goes sore whilst in full training then get it examined again, but it is also very important to get it examined when you have finished the season before you put them in the paddock as you don’t want to put them out with an injury because they won’t spell well and won’t give you his best when you bring him in next prep.
Kylie: What symptoms should horse owners look for to identify their horses require therapy?
Michael: Symptoms of muscle soreness or tears include lameness ,unusually high head carriage, not wanting to flex properly, hollowing out through the mid-back region, stepping short behind. These are only just a few but in my experience nearly all the riders, even the novices, usually have a good indication when their horse doesn’t feel like it should.
Kylie: Are there any preventative measures horse owners could take to avoid these issues?
Michael: Preventative measures for soft tissue injury include warming the horse up properly through light exercise and the Equissage can play an important role in this area as it can artificially warm them up.
Kylie: Any other advice to horse owners?
Michael: My advice to horse owners is to have their horses as fit as they possibly can without over doing it. A sound horse that is not fit will not compete as well as a sore horse that is very fit.
Kylie: What’s your opinion of Equissage Therapy?
Michael: I use Equissage on horses at racing stables who have had damage to their lower back region to warm them up before they get a saddle on.
Kylie: How do you think Australia compares to the rest of the world in terms of equine therapy?
Michael: I have been fortunate enough to treat horse injuries in quite a number of countries and compared to the rest of the world I think Australia is at the forefront of treating musculoskeletal injuries on our equine athletes.