Chiropractic care is often an effective treatment for lameness or an inability to perform a specific movement or gait.
Our chiropractic services are provided by Dr. Bill Ferguson, certified in animal chiropractic by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 2001. His chiropractic practice is limited to horses.
Chiropractic addresses the relationship of the spine and nervous system with other body systems. Misalignments of the vertebrae and subluxations of their associated joints can cause a variety of problems in horses. Most people seek out chiropractic care for their horses for treatment of lameness or an inability to perform a specific movement or gait. Ill-fitting saddles, injuries from pulling back when tied, and the athletic demands of many equine sports can result in many conditions that benefit from chiropractic care.
The equine spine has over 170 articulations including:
- 30 intervertebral discs
- 64 zygapophyseal joints
- 36 costovertebral joints
- 36 costotransverse joints
- 2 sacroiliac joints
- 1 joint of the dens
- 6-8 intertransverse joints
How can an animal as big as a horse be adjusted?
The important thing to remember is that properly done, an adjustment is not meant to adjust the entire horse, but rather one individual joint in that horse’s spine. A chiropractic adjustment is a very specific, high velocity, low force, controlled thrust directed in a specific direction on a specific joint. When the horse is brought into the proper position, relatively little force is required to achieve the adjustment.
The Chiropractic Examination
The first step in chiropractic care is a complete evaluation and examination. This involves taking a case history, posture analysis, gait analysis, static and motion palpation of the spine and extremities, and muscle palpation. An advantage of having a veterinarian experienced in equine lameness diagnosis perform the chiropractic evaluation is that lameness can be the cause of many chiropractic problems, and vice versa. Lameness exams are frequently incorporated into the evaluation. In each case the doctor must sort out which is the primary problem and determine the best treatment.
Following the evaluation, the problem areas are adjusted in order to return the joints to normal motion and to alleviate any muscle spasms and pain. Depending on the problem, often several areas will be adjusted at each session.
Indications that your horse may benefit from Chiropractic Care:
- Loss or decrease in level of performance.
- Problems or difficulties executing desired movements or gaits.
- Refusing, acting cinchy, bucking when mounted.
- Pain or sensitivity over back muscles.
- Injuries from falls or pulling back when tied.
- Abnormal head carriage.
- Inability to collect.
- Muscle imbalance or atrophy.
- Undiagnosed lameness.
How many treatments will my horse need?
The number of treatments depends on many factors and varies widely. The age and condition of the horse, whether the condition is acute or chronic and the severity of the condition all have a major effect on the course of treatment. Most problems that have not become chronic respond to one or two adjustments. Chronic or severe problems take longer to respond and a return to full function may not be possible in some cases. In these, multiple adjustments may be needed to achieve the maximum flexibility possible.