Poll Tension & the Equine Red Light Therapy Poll Cap
Poll tension is an all too common management issue in horses -particularly performance horses. The origins of tension are many and varied and are beyond the scope of this article. However common symptoms of poll tension are:
The horse riding heavier on one rein than the other.
Overly sensitive to touch around the ears or palpation about the poll.
Difficulty in bridling.
Resists bending in one direction.
Stopping at jumps.
Has a reluctance to step through from behind.
Poll tension may often be a result of an imbalance elsewhere in the horse. If you think of your horse’s motion as a wave that originates in the hind end and flows through the body and neck, you can see that the poll is the point at which the wave ends. Interruption at any point along the movement chain will ultimately have an effect on the poll. Because your horse’s body works as a unit that strives for balance, tight poll muscles can also be a secondary issue, a warning flag for a problem that originates somewhere else. Although the poll area is relatively small compared to the overall structure of the horse, it is of pivotal importance to his freedom and ease of movement.
How can the Equine Red Light Therapy Poll Cap help?
The Poll Cap can be a valuable aid in the management of poll tension due to the strategic placement of the red and infrared LEDS over acupuncture points, trigger points and common areas of tension throughout the head. Light Therapy is known for its rapid ability to open up circulation, reduce inflammation, increase collagen and ATP production, and release endorphins. All of which offer significant healing benefits for poll tension.
Recommended application time: A session of 15 to 20 minutes will provide a good therapeutic dose of light energy. No harm can be done if the cap is left on for longer periods of time as the body will only absorb what it needs in any one session. Daily use is recommended when there is a pre-existing issue in the Poll. Otherwise use on an “as needed” basis. Pre exercise is best or after the horse has cooled down from a work out. Indeed is has been well acclaimed as an effective pre- and post-performance aid for racing and competition horses.
“The biggest improvement with the dressage horses is when you use the lights over the poll. This area gets a real hiding in our discipline and especially with my best mare. She has had bursitis there since she was a baby, and now no swelling ever......! And the young horse I have coming through this year, Horacio - was a chronic grinder and now it's almost gone.”
Frequently Asked Questions
If the issues are related to pain/injury, red light therapy is highly beneficial due to its ability to penetrate deep into muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones and promote a strong healing response. Predominantly red and infrared light wavelengths act to increase circulation, collagen production, ATP production, serotonin and melatonin production, lymphatic drainage, endorphin release and reduce inflammation. All these factors are important for healing and wellness.
Yes certainly. Red and infrared light penetrate deep into tissues and joint spaces to increase circulation which improves the oxygenation of the tissue and removal of metabolic wastes. These wavelengths are also effective in shifting inflammation and stimulating the release of endorphins which can significantly reduce pain levels.
Yes. The red/infrared wavelengths stimulate the production of melatonin and endorphin release which can have an overall calming effect on horses.
Yes absolutely. Used once to twice a day for a good 20 minutes the pad will stimulate circulation and shift inflammation. Using the pad before exercise is recommended.
In some cases a horse may need to be introduced to the pad slowly especially if it is a little head shy. We recommend standing alongside the shoulder, facing forwards towards the head and gently moving the pad along the top of the neck using approach/retreat to the poll area. Once settled, place the pad in position over the ears. Use the red light pad for a short period of time (2-3 minutes if the horse is unsettled) then repeat later in the day. Usually the horse will become accustomed to the pad and very quickly learn to relax and enjoy these sessions. No force should ever be used in applying the pads.
Around 20 minutes will give a good therapeutic dose of light energy, however in some cases longer treatment times can be highly beneficial. If your horse is comfortable allow for longer time!
In acute situations you could do 2 sessions per day for the first few days then reduce to once daily as healing progresses.
Yes. The red/infrared wavelengths stimulate the production of melatonin and endorphin release which can have an overall calming effect on horses. This is more evident when the pad is used over the poll or sacroiliac regions.
No harm whatsoever can be done by using the pads as instructed. Even leaving them on for much longer than normal is safe as the body will only absorb what it needs in any one session.
Often areas of acute tightness or metabolic build up (lactate) in the muscles can be released during these sessions which can result in sweating. This is a positive outcome.
Twenty four hours post surgery you can be using the pad twice a day to help the healing process.
Yes absolutely. No restrictions here.
Ideally use the pad just prior to riding/competition/racing to help soften and open the area. Also use directly after competition/racing once the horse has cooled down. As a recovery aid this is an ideal time to use the pad. Red/infrared wavelengths greatly stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage to improve performance and recovery.
Note: The therapy is totally legal with no swabbing issues – making it a valuable performance/recovery aid.
Because these two wavelengths together (Red 660nm and infrared 830nm) have been shown to work well together in promoting cellular regeneration and stimulating a strong healing response.
Yes absolutely. The poll cap will be beneficial to use over any area on the body requiring attention. Indeed the poll cap will sit nicely across the withers and the sacroiliac areas.
The pad is powered by a convenient rechargeable lithium ion battery. The battery sits in a secure pocket stitched into the pad.
Yes. The poll cap once in place under a halter with straps attached will remain secure even with strong head shaking.
Yes absolutely. Many therapists work with our pads both before and after treatments. Some horses are so difficult to massage around the poll that therapists will use the pad for 10 to 15 minutes prior to them physically working on the area. The poll cap can have a significant calming and opening effect on horses.
Only basic instruction is needed. The poll cap comes with an easy to read manual. You could also view our short instructional video listed on this page.