Bring the Healing Art of Equine Chiropractic to Your Stables
Published by Triplehchiropractic on December 26, 2015
Whether you have a stable full of thoroughbreds or a couple of old breed mares, chances are good that as an animal lover, you don’t want your horses to suffer needlessly. In many ways, horses are very similar to us in that age and infirmities slow them down and reduce the quality of their remaining years.How can you tell whether equine chiropractic care is needed?
Just because horses don’t have the gift of language doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating with us all the time. Anyone who has spent considerable time around horses learns what their nickers and whinnies mean or how a toss of the head might mean a horse is “feeling his oats” that day. So, too, do horses give us signs when their discomfort is crippling them. Below are some signs to watch out for that may indicate that a subluxation, or spine misalignment, might be the underlying cause of a great deal of your horse’s pain.
- Reluctance to being saddled
- Problems working in a specific direction or when turning
- Postural abnormalities
- Weight loss un-attributed to other conditions
- Biting or ear-pinning when saddling is attempted
- Obvious body stiffness and/or muscle rigidity
- Tilting the head at odd angles
- Refusing to jump or be ridden
- Problems collecting and with lateral work
As there can be many different causes for your horse to be acting out of character, it is important to have them examined first by an equine veterinarian. Their troubles could be something as simple as being poorly shod by the farrier, or they may have a painful abscess beneath the skin that makes the pressure of being ridden excruciating. Even a misfitting saddle can cause a docile horse to turn cantankerous, so it is vital to get at the root of the problem in order to alleviate any pain.The problem of subluxation
Just as in humans, a horse’s spine serves as the bony frame that enables motion and functionality. When misalignment occurs, either due to the infirmities that come with aging or from an injury caused by misadventure, equine nerves can get pinched and cause wracking spasms in the muscles. The entire back and neck area can become inflexible, and the joints swollen and painful.
Once a licensed equine veterinarian has ruled out other disorders, he or she can give the green light for chiropractic care for musculoskeletal conditions that haven’t resolved with traditional therapeutic treatments. It is important to begin treatments as early as is medically possible, as practitioners have learned that optimum results stem from early intervention after injuries. While chronic conditions can and do receive benefits from chiropractic treatments, these manipulations cannot undo any degenerative changes that have already taken place.Anatomy of an equine chiropractic examination
A good equine chiropractor always begins by taking a full medical history of the animal. Following that, the practitioner segues into the physical exam itself. Ideally, it should involve all of the following:
- Observation of the horse standing at rest. The practitioner will be checking for any asymmetries, atrophying musculature, abnormalities in posture and signs of discomfort.
- He or she will then palpate the spine and identify and analyze hot and inflamed regions, as well as any other obvious structural abnormalities.
- It is also crucial to analyze the horse’s gait during the chiropractic examination. The mobility (or lack thereof) will be noted, including the range of pelvic motion. Doing so allows the practitioner to rule out limb abnormalities as a cause of the animal’s distress.
- The practitioner will also need to employ motion palpation during the exam. He or she will gently move each joint through its full range of motion to gauge resistance and loss of mobility of all of the vertebrae.
When you discover that a condition responds favorably to equine chiropractic techniques, it is important to understand that, just like in chiropractic done on human patients, periodic adjustments will likely have to be done in order for the relief to continue for your horse. The nature of the injury or disability will likely dictate — at least initially — the frequency of the treatments.
The provider will rely to a great degree on owner feedback for the efficacy of the treatments and the duration of the relief that is provided to the horse. Paying close attention to the gait, mood and appetite of the animal in the days following the treatment can help establish a baseline for frequency of future treatments and the relief to be expected.
While equine chiropractic care will never replace the services of your large animal veterinarian, it definitely has its place as part of an array of holistic therapeutic treatments that can provide relief to horses suffering from injuries and chronic conditions that remain resistant to more traditional treatment modules.Finding the right equine chiropractic practitioner for your horse
Because there is minimal regulation on those who practice chiropractic on animals, anyone can hang out their shingle and declare themselves equine chiropractors. Because of this, horse owners have to be wary of putting their horses into the literal hands of those who have improper training. As the horse community is small and owners are familiar with one another, the tried and true method of word-of-mouth is generally sufficient to separate the chaff from the wheat. Any equine chiropractor who damages a valuable horse will not stay in business very long. It is wise to ask what education and training your chiropractic has.
Here at Triple H Chiropractic, Dr. Ginny Heller has expanded her human practice to include providing chiropractic relief to her four-legged friends as well. She completed her animal chiropractic course work at Parker University and offers her on-call services to horses throughout the greater Houston area. Call today at 832.658.9637 to schedule an on-site visit by Dr. Heller.