Indications shown by the horse that there is a problem or an injury that may need treatment by a chiropractor include:

  • Unlevelness, especially behind

  • Uneven wear of shoes

  • Asymmetry, such as stiffness on one rein or a disunited canter

  • Sore areas along the spine, being cold backed

  • Unexplained deterioration in usual performance

  • Uncharacteristic changes in behaviour or temperament e.g. rearing, bucking and refusing fences

  • Lameness after a fall or other accident, where alternative causes have been eliminated

    What is a chiropractor?

    A chiropractor is a therapist who manipulates the spine and joints of the body in order to realign the skeletal frame and to relieve associated muscle spasm.

    Chiropractic treatment helps to both restore and maintain health, soundness and performance and works holistically to eliminate the cause of a problem, not just to treat the symptoms

    There are several schools of chiropractic which train students to treat people, but the McTimoney Chiropractic College also teaches a postgraduate course in Animal Manipulation.

    All their practitioners will seek veterinary approval before they commence chiropractic treatment on any animal

    What is the difference between physio/equine sports massage and McTimoney Chiropractic?

    McTimoney Chiropractic is a technique used to manipulate misaligned joints throughout the whole body, but particularly in the spine and pelvis, which produces an effect at that joint and to any muscles, which are attached to that area.

    It is used in the treatment of “back problems” and associated injuries, such as sacroiliac strain and some lameness in horses.

    Both physio for horses and equine massage are treatments which are used to treat muscle and tendon injuries as well as back problems in horses.

    Physios will use a variety of machines, ranging from ultrasound, magnetopulse and laser treatment, to aid in the recovery oftorn muscles or strained ligaments, and to prevent muscle atrophy following an injury.

    Some physios will also use manipulation of the joints and massage techniques as a part of their treatment. A therapist specialising in equine massage uses massage to increase circulation, enhance muscle tone and relax muscle spasm thereby increasing the level of performance.

    In the event of injury, massage can be used to aid recovery and to prevent muscle atrophy due to the animal compensating in its movement while injured. It can also be used as a preventative treatment to release general muscle tension and to aid mental relaxation in the horse.

    What can be done to prevent problems occurring in horses?

  • Most obviously is to act on getting treatment for a horse which has had a recent accident or trauma

  • Get treatment yourself as a rider if you have a problem and following a course of chiropractic treatment use it on a regular basis as preventative treatment to reduce thechance of your pain recurring

  • Make sure tack fits correctly, the bit is not too big or too small, the brow band is not pinching, the saddle is wide enough and is fitted by a reputable saddler

  • Rugs and rollers not pinching, girth and numnahs are regularly washed to prevent dried sweat causing sores

  • Have teeth checked every six months to prevent sharp teeth or wolf teeth causing problems

  • Use a reputable farrier to make sure the feet are balanced correctly before shoeing. Incorrect foot balance will cause the horse to compensate in his limb movement and weight distribution, putting stress onto different muscle groups

  • It should be remembered that a back problem in a horse is usually a secondary effect from another problem, such as those mentioned earlier. As well as treating the problem chiropractically, other changes should be made to prevent the problem reoccurring.

    REPRODUCED BY KIND PERMISSION OF MCTIMONEY CHIROPRACTOR DIANNE BRADSHAW BSC (HONS) MC, AMC, MMCA For more information on natural animal care and treatments click here to visit www.natural-animal-health.co.uk