While at the World Cup Finals in Omaha earlier this year, I had the chance to visit the TheraPlate booth, and that’s where the whole affair started.
My sister in Florida has a TheraPlate and had some pretty positive things to say, so I thought I’d wander over and take a look. The representative had the plate on so of course, “if it fits I sits;” the entire crew hopped on the plate and proceeded to stand there for the next twenty minutes listening to the rep describe the science and benefits of the plate. While everything she had to say sounded great, none of us really came with the intent to make a substantial purchase so we thanked her for her time and finally began the trek to lunch.
On our walk to the restaurant I noticed, almost as an afterthought, that my back no longer hurt. Like at all. I was pretty impressed. I was even more impressed when it didn’t hurt the next day either. Impressed enough that I went back and asked to do their free thirty-day trial because if it helped me, surely my spoiled rotten horses would like it (and we all know they want for nothing). After seeing positive results over those 30 days, I asked if TheraPlate would allow me to extend the trial to 90 days in order to write this review. As you can see, they generously agreed.
To begin, let’s talk about what the TheraPlate actually does and then my test subjects. The TheraPlate essentially uses vibration therapy which is thought to cause your muscles to contract and relax as well as stimulate the production of the cells that produce bone (osteoblasts). Vibration therapy also increases overall circulation, the combination of which is thought to increase healing and help prevent injury. In human studies vibration therapy has also been credited with a reduction in stress and improved lymphatic flow (thanks so much, WebMD). According to the TheraPlate website, the plate can help prevent injury (with consistent use), counter chronic inflammation, speed healing (cuts in half), reduce tension, and reduce major causes of most pain.
Sounds pretty *majikal,* huh? Now you see why I had to give it a go.
On to my guinea pigs. If you read any of my stuff you are probably familiar with The Beastlet and The Paintlet (Stormy). Here are their basic stats to give you an idea of what they are and what I was hoping to address.
Discipline: Dressage/ Showing 3rd, Schooling PSG
Issues: Nothing overly apparent. Some mild deficits in his left hind mean he at times gets out of alignment in his hips and SI from not carrying as evenly as he should. My biggest goal for him was to see if the TheraPlate could help him recover more quickly from higher intensity workouts and hopefully help avoid muscle soreness.
Stormy, AKA The Paintlet:
Discipline: Dressage/ Showing I-1, Schooling GP
Issues: Stormy is tight both mentally and physically. He can be incredibly tight in his hind end as well as his neck. It often takes him a significant amount of time to warm-up into a ride. In addition to hoping the TheraPlate would help him recover more quickly from higher intensity workouts, I was also hoping that the plate might help him relax more and reduce warm-up time.
During the first month, I took about a week and introduced both horses to the TheraPlate. Since I don’t have stocks or even a great place to cross tie, I basically used shavings bales to make little walls and put a slow feeder in front of them to distract them from the odd, wall-less trailer floor I asked them to step up on. Success. Aside from the initial hairy eyeball before the offering of food was discovered, neither horse had any issues standing on the TheraPlate.
Now you might be wondering what this thing sounds like. It’s less obnoxious than you’d think. When it’s set at the lower speeds it basically just hums along. When set at the maximum it is a bit louder and somewhat noticeable, but nothing major. The only time it makes a god awful racket is if you have it unbalanced! No one appreciates that. There are little feet on the bottom that raise and lower each corner, so if it’s too noisy the odds are that it isn’t sitting level and therefor it’s buzzing against the ground at some weird frequency. Even when it was unbalanced, my horses weren’t particularly offended (shocking).
Since neither of my guys were scared of the noise or standing on the plate, I had zero issues there. I would note that it is tricky to make time to use the TheraPlate if you don’t set it up in an area that facilitates it fitting into your current routine. For example, if you put it in a tack stall where a horse can be safely tied, or in stocks, it’s much easier to plop them on it while you do other things than if you put it somewhere where you have to stand and hold them the entire treatment time. This is something to be considered.
The Protocol and App:
One of the nifty things about the TheraPlate is that you can download an app that helps you tailor your use of the TheraPlate to address whatever issues a specific horse might have (and let me say, there’s a pretty extensive list of issues to choose from). I found this particularly helpful since I’m not a therapist and generally have no idea what I’m doing with vibration therapy and different modalities.
Because I was addressing different issues with each horse, I chose different protocols for each. For The Beastlet, I largely used the protocol listed for overall muscle soreness which is in the chart below.
The Beastlet’s Results:
I started The Beastlet off with the protocol for general muscle soreness as my goal was to hopefully help him train more efficiently. Initially I only used the plate post workout while I iced him. It took about a week for me to notice anything, but at the point it became fairly clear that he was less fatigued during his midweek rides, was starting off more forward than before, and he appeared to have less excess fluid buildup in his lower legs (he’s always seemed to have more “filled” legs than most horses). After the second week he would walk into the barn after being hosed and quite obviously drag me to the plate and climb on.
After the second month of continuous use (though still only once a day due to time), I noticed that he was carrying more evenly behind and my body worker and chiropractor noted his hips were remaining even. He was also feeling more over the back and engaged from behind during our rides.
During the third month, I increased the use of the TheraPlate to include some pre-training sessions as well as the post. During the rides that started with the TheraPlate, The Beastlet came out and felt ready to go more quickly than the rides without.
- Decreased Fatigue
- Decreased Fluid Retention in lower legs
- Increased Throughness and Engagement from Behind
- Straighter Carriage
- Increased Relaxation during Training
Ultimately, I can safely say that The Beastlet is a fan of the TheraPlate and I do believe that it allowed us to take our game to the next level. Not only did he feel better in his body while using it, he also felt much more relaxed mentally. He was ready to work each day and I experienced a significant reduction in the number of balky or nappy days. I attribute the latter to the fact that the TheraPlate helped reduce any muscle soreness that could have been building from the upper level work. Given that, I do believe that the TheraPlate did allow me to get a bit more out of our training time without allowing The Beastlet to get sore or sour to the process.
The Paintlet’s Results:
Stormy is often my special child. He just tries his heart out so much that he can work himself up into a knot in the process. For him, because he’s a bit older and naturally tighter, I decided to rotate through both the arthritis and hoof soreness protocols. With him I started with his treatments pre-ride. Where it took a week to notice much with The Beastlet, it took only one treatment to notice a significant difference for Stormy.
He was instantly much softer and more supple in his body. Not shockingly, this meant that he warmed up much more quickly than usual. For the first two weeks, that was the main difference I noticed.
Around the start of the second month I noticed that Stormy seemed quite a bit more relaxed than previously. He wasn’t grinding his teeth when we did more difficult work nor was he as tense when asked to push more from behind into the contact. He was also moving quite a bit more freely.
During the third month, I added in a few more treatment sessions as time allowed. I noticed that after doing that, even on the days when I would ride without first using the TheraPlate he would start more fluid and soft than previously. That leads me to believe that he was largely feeling better overall from using the plate and that the effects were lasting longer than I’d anticipated.
- Shorter Warm-up Time
- More Even Movement
- Softer Topline
- More Supple Overall
- No Teeth Grinding
The TheraPlate helped Stormy relax both physically and mentally which allowed him to better do his job and perform at a higher level; he even made it back into the I-1 ring this summer! Being the type of horse who would literally die for his rider, Stormy is also the sort who would get more stressed and internalize it all. With the TheraPlate, this was largely avoided as it helped him remain relaxed and feeling comfortable.
After a summer of using the TheraPlate I can honestly say that I do think that it makes a difference. For my guys, it not only helped keep them feeling relaxed, but in doing so also allowed them to make bigger gains from their training due to what I would assume to be less soreness and fatigue (and so far, knock on wood, no injuries).
We ask a great deal of these guys; I think it’s pretty important that we do what we can to help keep them happy and confident in their work. My experiences with the TheraPlate lead me to believe that it does just that.
For more information on the TheraPlate, the science behind it and additional studies, as well as pricing options check out their website HERE. You can also check out their Facebook page for additional updates and information.
Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 34-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now 7-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.