Animal Chiropractic ~ Horses
Think about what happens to a horse when being ridden . . . suddenly, he has to balance not only his own weight, but that of the saddle and the rider. The horse has to work in a certain way to achieve “collection”; he may have to jump or move very fast, all the time balancing himself and his rider. The horse may already have poor conformation traits; maybe the saddle isn’t a perfect fit; maybe the shoes are not ideal; maybe he lives in a loose box for 23 hours a day . . . Often, the rider is the first to feel subtle changes in the horse’s flexibility. The horse may seem “off” without obvious lameness, or the imbalance may move from limb to limb.
Indications for Care
Typical signs to be aware of in horses may include:
If you have noticed the above changes in your horse, speak to your vet about seeing a chiropractor.
What will a chiropractor do?
The chiropractor will ask questions of both the owner and the rider (where the patient is a riding horse), and carry out an examination which usually includes an analysis of both posture and gait. Usually the rider or handler is aware of areas where the horse responds differently from side-to-side.
Assessment of the horse may reveal asymmetries, such as unequal muscle size or tone between the left and right side which are not normal for that animal. The chiropractor will also look for abnormal head or neck placement, foot placement or any sign that the posture being adopted is not normal for that animal.
The chiropractor may then assess the range of movement of the animal's spine to see if it is even on each side, as well as feeling the muscles around the spine to assess any muscle spasm, swelling or the presence of any hot or cold spots that will indicate an alteration in circulation.
The chiropractor may look for uneven wear on hooves, shoes or claws, before watching the animal moving to assess whether there is any lameness, weakness, "hiking" of one hip, shortening of the stride, stumbling, inco-ordination or bizarre or restricted movement.
In order for the chiropractor to properly assess your animal, it may be necessary for you to provide diagnostic information from the treating veterinarian, including any imaging or reports. It is extremely important that you provide as full-as-possible medical history for your animal. With this information your veterinarian and your chiropractor can determine whether Chiropractic care can help your animal.
If your veterinarian believes that Chiropractic care would not be the best overall treatment for your animal, your chiropractor will respect that opinion and no treatment will be carried out.
What does chiropractic treatment consist of?
The treatment will not hurt the animal; in fact most animals thoroughly enjoy it! It is quite common for an animal to become increasingly relaxed as the treatment progresses even to the point of becoming drowsy.
The chiropractic adjustment consists of a short, fast thrust to a specific area which releases muscle spasm, alleviates pain and returns the joint to its normal range of motion. This allows the body to restore its own natural balance and harmony.
The chiropractor may then advise on after-care, and tell the owner what to expect. The chiropractor may also advise the owner to consult other professionals such as the vet, farrier or saddle fitter. The chiropractor may send a report to the referring veterinary surgeon.