Equine chiropractic care

A horse that’s not behaving well, showing some lameness, or hating you in the saddle might benefit from a visit by a chiropractor. Even four-legged creatures can throw their backs out of whack sometimes.

Dr. Rebecca Funk is a clinical assistant professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. She says equine chiropractors can treat a wide variety of conditions, but  back pain is the most common ailment in horses.

"There’s a lot of reasons horses get back pain, some stemming from the saddle, some stemming from their confirmation. In some instances, chiropractic adjustments can address that back pain and fix it, sometimes those horses need continued chiropractic care depending on their individual situation," says Funk. "In some horses you have to add other things in, other pain managements, modalities, or even anti-inflammatories to help control some of the inflammation."

An equine chiropractor will observe the horse as it’s standing still to look for abnormalities in posture, do a gait analysis, and do some motion evaluations.

"So what they do is move all those joints through the range of motion and test them, and when they find a joint that’s not moving very well, they’ll treat that joint. So your exam includes motion of the joint, it includes palpation of the muscles, and looking at the symmetry of the horse as well as moving," she says. "How well the horse moves, if they have indications of stiffness or pain while they’re moving."

Humans lie on a special table for a chiropractic adjustment but that would be difficult for a horse. Funk says instead, doctors stand on a big box called a “chiropractic bale.” It makes them taller so they can make downward adjustments on the horse’s back.

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