Horse chiropractics is a growing science that has proven to be beneficial for my horse. My personal experiences with horse chiropractors have been very positive. My sweet horse, Romeo, has gone through some very drastic attitude changes throughout the past six years that I have owned him. At first, when he would throw his stubborn fits and ignore everything I asked him to do under saddle, I brushed it off as a bad attitude. This, I have learned, was very ignorant of me. The real problem turned out to be that he had thrown his back out and was very sore when I rode him. His protests were his attempt to tell me what was wrong. When I told my trainer about his weird attitude change that would not go away, she suggested we have a horse chiropractor out to check him. I had never heard of such a thing, but I was hopeful that it would lead us to the source of Romeo's problems. It definitely did. After his first adjustment, I had my Romeo back. He was himself again and it was clear he felt much better. Now I have the chiropractor out at least once every year, or when I notice that same attitude change.
So what is equine chiropractic exactly? Much like a human chiropractor would do, an equine chiropractor will first do a full assessment of your horse to discover the underlying problem. This assessment includes a case history, including any stressful situations your horse has been in lately that may have caused some sort of physical issue. It also includes posture analysis, gait analysis, static and motion palpation of the spine and its joints, muscle palpation, and checking for any changes in temperature over the spine.
Once the location of the problem has been found, the chiropractor will adjust that area of the spine, alleviating any pain, muscle spasms and return the joints to normal motion. The adjustments are controlled thrusts made by the hand, directed in a specific direction on a specific joint. Depending on your horse's specific needs and factors such as age, severity of the injury, and desired flexibility achieved, the number of adjustments your horse needs will vary.
Many chiropractors work closely with veterinarians to achieve a greater flexibility and collaborate in order to cure lameness. The goal of these teams is to find the primary problem and focus on that rather than treating a secondary source of pain.
Some things to watch for in your horse that may indicate he/she could benefit from chiropractic care are:
-a notable decrease in your horse's performance level
-unusual behavior changes (ex. uncooperative, cinchy, bucking)
-difficulty executing desired movements
-muscle imbalance or spasms
-injuries resulting from falls, training or other exercises
-any abnormal gait problems
-stressful situations for the conformation of the horse, such as trailering, birth process, riding/training equipment
Equine chiropractic is still a growing science and many equestrians have never even heard of it. My goal in this blog was to share my personal experience as well as give a brief description of the process as well. Since our horses cannot just speak up and tell us what is wrong all the time, it is our responsibility to work with them and give our best efforts to find the underlying problem. The best way to do that is to collaborate with someone who knows what to look for (a vet or chiropractor). Chiropractic care just might be the answer to your horse's problems.
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