Monday, February 23, 2009

Visit from the equine chiropractor

An equine chiropractor made a visit to our barn. Being both open-minded and naturally skeptical, I decided to sign Huey and Armani up, but I made no commitments to continue treatment without giving it thought.

Laws governing veterinary chiropractic work vary by state, as seen in this chart. In some states only veterinarians can perform chiropractic work. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association seems to be the largest certifying body, which certifies both veterinarian and lay chiropractors.

What to expect?

I wasn't sure what to expect from the visit. I've never been to a chiropractor myself, but I have felt the benefits of yoga, so I do not entirely discount holistic care. I found this very thoughtful thread on chronicleforums. It seems their are two types of chiropractors: more forceful ones who really pop the joints, and gentler ones who approach the soft tissue more.

Here is a video of a Lumbar Adjustment. This user has a number of other narrated videos. They seem to be the first, more forceful, type. Of course, I feel obligated to say that I would not consider "trying this at home" after watching these videos.

Our chiropractor is the second type. She is a petite lady and when she walked in I admit I wondered "How can she possibly do this?" She explained that she doesn't think of it as "moving bone" but rather adjusting the tissue. She brought bagged hay bales to stand on. Although she only needed one to treat little Armani!

The verdict
Armani, feeling a little hot-headed, didn't want to stand next to her hay bale at first. He eventually settled down. But ever-trusting Huey clearly enjoyed it right away. He relaxed, sighed often, and shut his eyes for the whole treatment.

She observed without prompting that Armani and Huey were tighter on opposite sides. I admitted that Armani travels better clockwise and Huey counterclockwise. Armani was "out" on his temporomandibular joint, his jaw, and his atlas, the joint of the first vertebrae. Huey was stiff through his whole poll area. He also was "out" through his sacral vertebrae. She mentioned that she sees that frequently on off-the-track racehorses.

I would consider it again. I've heard from other people that it helps to stick it out for a few treatments, before you'll see appreciable results.

Have you tried a chiropractor for your horse? For yourself? Or have you considered it?


Thera said...

I haven't used a chiropractor, but I know many people who do and have found many benefits for their horses. I used to be a massage therapist and took it upon myself to study equine anatomy and physiology. I found that the benefits of equine massage are huge both for horse and rider. I have seen many improvements in my horse's movement and attitude. Hope that helps.

whisper_the_wind said...

I swear by least for myself. As a severe, chronic headache sufferer (one that didn't want to go the drug route) I suffered for 10 years until I got a free initial chiro visit and consultation through work. After one week of daily adjustments, my ten year headache was gone. I went from +6 Goody powders a day to maybe one a week. My chiro also found the cause...a degenerative bone disorder that is slowly causing my C-3 through C-5 vertebra to fuse. Adjustments keep me going. If I could find a local equine chiropracter, I'd use them for all my horses.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I haven't ever tried one on myself, although I probably should. Our horses get adjustments maybe twice a year. The same holistic vet has been doing them for about 7-8 yrs. She's great and she also does acupuncture. I would say they all love it, except Donnie doesn't let her any where near with the acupuncture treatment which is fine, we don't push him. I do feel that the adjustments and alignments help, especially Nate who is always slightly out of whack. It's gotten to the point that when she comes, she will just check on them and the ones that need it get treated. Originally, when we first got Dusty she was a mess, now she basically doesn't need much any more. One thing we do is not to ride them for a day or two afterwards to kind of let it all settle, I would keep doing it and see how it works for your guys,

LizGoldsmith, EquineInk said...

I have used chiropractic care on my horses and on myself . . . with mixed results. For my problem, which was a pinched nerve, it offered me immediate but short-lived relief; deep tissue massage proved far more effective.

For my horses, it's harder to say. I had a terrible, beyond awful experience with an equine Chiropractor (who was also a vet) about 12 years ago and it turned me off chiropractic care for years. I did try it one more time after my horse had been kicked and he was carrying his tail strangely. After two adjustments he was fine, so I did think it worked.

However, I've always thought that what really made a difference for them was massage. My horses moved better and seemed more relaxed. My belief is that many of the misalignments are caused because of tight muscles. Merely making an adjustment is temporary because the muscles are still tight.

Sorry, didn't mean to write a novel. Maybe I should address this on my blog :).

A Bay Horse said...

Interesting info. Sounds like you all have had good results for the most part. Liz please do write an entry about it! I'm interested in hearing more! What went wrong with that bad visit?

Chris said...

I've had a chiropractor out to my boy who is sway backed and was good at putting his back out (on account of an ill fitting saddle).

Of course changing the saddle was the way to go - eliminate the problem - but a chiropractor did work but it was the sort who popped things back into place.

Personally I prefer bowen technique and use this on my boy now and love seeing him relax and having him feel better after such a gentle/non invasive session.

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Jeff @ Market Seattle Chiropractor said...

How many weeks of treatment did you have your horse on? I'm only asking because a chiropractor stopped by our stable the other day to check on our neighbors horse. He's curious about what the treatment could possibly entail.

Seattle Chiropractor said...

Equine chiropractors do a marvelous job. We had one for a few years for our top racehorse. He kept him in good health for years, carefully watching and obviously caring for the horse. I think equine chiropractors are an essential part of any race team.

Seattle Back pain said...

Yes, it usually takes a few weeks and even months before there is a noticeable difference. However, sometimes the results are immediate. Don't lose hope.

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