Can an Equine Chiropractor Help Your Horse?

Many horse riders fail to take into account the fact – despite popular myths – that a horse’s back isn’t actually designed to carry a load.

When a horse takes a rider, it has to use its muscles and balance in unnatural ways. Ideally, horses are trained in a way that strengthens their muscles and riders in a way that helps horses maintain their balance. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case.

When is treatment required?

An unbalanced and misplaced horse can experience back pain, which usually manifests itself through poor behavior. Even some lameness can be attributed to spinal and joint dysfunction.

While good riding and a proper saddle help take care of our horses’ backs, many horses (and riders) benefit from chiropractic therapy as part of holistic care. Chiropractors focus on the horse’s skeletal structures and use manual manipulations to restore these structures to proper alignment.

Chiropractic therapy may help if your horse has any of these symptoms or behavioral problems:

  • difficult to bend or bend
  • significant back or neck pain
  • Difficulty finding clues while jogging
  • Signs of resistance, such as diving, cocking, tail flicking
  • Uneven gait
  • Difficulty transitioning gait
  • frightened
  • Bolted
  • head shake
  • toe drag
  • uneven shoulders or hips
  • Crab when groomed
  • keep the tail on one side
  • root
  • rearing
  • Under- or over-bending
  • pull
  • Jig
  • lame
  • rigidity
  • lack of impulse
  • Difficult to maintain collections
  • cold back or tight
  • nap
  • Does not stand on three legs when washing hoofs or being a farrier
  • small strides when trotting or jogging
  • refusal to jump and sour
  • Front or back leg tripping or knuckles
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A consultation with an equine chiropractor should begin with a thorough examination of the horse, including its history, care, and use. A chiropractor may ask to see all gait movements of a horse, possibly even riding. If a chiropractor knows a rider has a back or mobility problem and they are eligible to do so, they can also advise or provide treatment for the rider. It is not uncommon for a horse to respond to the stiffness of the rider.

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What does a chiropractor do?

The chiropractor will use manual force at certain points on the horse’s body to bring the underlying structures back into normal alignment. Ideally, this will return the joint to normal function and range of motion. The first consultation and treatment may take an hour or more. Follow-up appointments may be recommended, usually within a week of initial treatment, and then further divided as any specific concerns begin to resolve.

Some veterinarians are trained in equine chiropractic. Some chiropractors treat both humans and horses, which can help pinpoint how a rider’s imbalance affects the horse. Those who specialize in chiropractic can complement their practice with other therapies such as infrared, massage, myofascial relaxation, acupuncture or pressure, therapeutic touch or pressure point therapy. Regulations for alternative treatments such as chiropractic vary from place to place, so it’s best to do your research and find out what qualifications are required in your area. Word-of-mouth testimonials are a good indication that chiropractors have had good results with other horses.

Chiropractic treatment is sometimes not recommended. If your horse has lameness or a very specific pain center, it’s a good idea to check for injuries or even fractures before chiropractic treatment. Using chiropractic for certain problems, especially undiagnosed fractures, may cause more harm. Always consult a qualified chiropractor. This way, you can be sure that the practitioner has the appropriate training and experience.

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Can an Equine Chiropractor Help Your Horse?
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