Chiropractic care for your horse, also known as equine chiropractic, is an important part of overall equine health.
Chiropractic care for horses is similar to chiropractic care for humans, in that it helps to strengthen and repair the relationship between the body’s structure – particularly the vertebrae – and its function with the central nervous system.
Chiropractic problems can be many and varied. For example, a compressed vertebrae can interfere with nervous functioning. These compressed nerves can then lead your horse to experience pain, difficulty moving, or weakened posture.
Identifying Musculoskeletal Problems
In some cases, equine musculoskeletal problems are fairly obvious: your horse may develop bad posture, for example, or show signs of pain and discomfort when you try to mount them. These are sure signs that you should seek a chiropractor, or at least veterinary assistance.
In some cases, however, musculoskeletal problems are not so obvious. If you are unsure about whether or not your horse is struggling with an issue, you may be able to identify the problem on your own prior to calling a chiropractor.
Check mobility and muscles
Make sure that your horse is able to move freely and comfortably in all directions. If you notice tension at any point, make note.
- Get your horse to move its neck from left to right to ensure it has no neck problems. If it has trouble moving it to one side, it may have a spinal issue.
- Put some pressure on the spinal cord from above to ensure that it’s not stiff and rigid. It should compress slightly. Feel the spine as it runs all the way from the neck down to the tail, making sure that there are no abnormal bumps or concave areas.
- The muscles on your horse’s body should be symmetrical in size. If they are not, this signifies some sort of imbalance or issue. Muscles should also be relatively taut, but not outright hard, nor should they be too soft (a sign of atrophy).
5 Benefits of Chiropractic Care for horses
Equine chiropractic is a fantastic addition to other forms of veterinary medicine, and there are a number of benefits that your horse can experience if you provide it with chiropractic care. These are some of the benefits and uses of equine chiropractic:
1. Treating chronic musculoskeletal issues
Musculoskeletal issues can be numerous, and they can vary in their nature. Musculoskeletal issues can manifest in a number of different ways. If you notice that your horse is struggling with any of the following issues, it could be wise to get them checked in for some equine chiropractic.
- Strange or stooped posture
- Visible discomfort when being saddled (snapping of the ears, braying) or while being ridden
- Attempting to relieve itself of the rider while being ridden (an indication of pain and discomfort)
- Resistance to jumping
- Changes in motor coordination or motor movements
- Changes in behaviour and facial expressions, looking scared or hurt
- Being sensitive to touch, especially in certain areas
- Irregular gait
- Atrophied muscles
- Difficulty using certain muscles, especially the hind legs
- Being unable to swing their back
- Changes in stride, shorter stride
Equine chiropractic can help to identify the root cause of these issues and correct it in a way that benefits your horse.
2. Reducing stiffness and tension
Stiffness and tension can be either acute (it happens once in a while for a relatively short duration) or chronic (it occurs repeatedly and frequently over the course of weeks, months, or years).
Stiffness and tension can be sources of difficulty for both you and your horse. When your horse is stiff or tense, it becomes unable to engage in its normal range of motion. This will likely lead to a drastic decrease in their performance, their ability to move, and their comfort level.
If stiffness and tension is not identified early and you continue to ride your horse, the issues can develop into something more serious. Always be cautious and aware if your horse displays any signs of pain or discomfort, especially at the moment when you mount them.
3. Improve overall performance
Equine chiropractic isn’t just useful for horses that already have an issue. Equine chiropractic can be useful for all manner of horses, even if they’re already able-bodied and performing quite well.
Equine chiropractic can also be considered a sort of ‘tune-up’ that allows you to improve the performance, strength, and mobility of your horse. When a chiropractor works with your horse, they will be able to help identify any potential abnormalities in their posture or their spinal alignment.
By correcting any abnormalities or imbalances, the chiropractor will be able to help your horse achieve its most effective posture and to maximize its performance. This is a particularly useful benefit for people who are using sport horses.
Getting a check-up from a chiropractor prior to engaging in races or other sporting activities will help to ensure that your horse is working at its best.
4. Maintaining good health in old age
As animals grow older, they start to show signs of wear. This can include the obvious external signs – sagging skin, wrinkles, and greying hair – however, some of the signs related to the musculoskeletal system are less obvious.
Part of the reason that horses begin to lose their mobility and performance ability as they grow older is because of changes in their musculoskeletal structure. These changes can be monitored and corrected, to some degree, by a chiropractor.
By having your horse regularly checked up by a chiropractor, you will be able to greatly reduce the impact of age-related wear and tear. You will be able to ensure that your horse remains a strong performer longer than it otherwise would, and you’ll also be able to minimize the chance of developing musculoskeletal issues like arthritis.
5. Low risk and no medication Involved
A horse may in some rare cases experience some soreness or tenderness after a session with a chiro. However overall equine chiropractic is a relatively low risk from of treatment. A typical session with a chiropractor will not involve any significant manipulation and is often more akin to a sweep to find out exactly where the horse might be tender. It can also be said that Chiropractic treatment does not require any medicine or other chemical treatments that can often be prescribed in haste.
Equine chiropractic is a very important part of equine care. If you suspect that your horse is struggling with some form of musculoskeletal issue, or if you’d just like to make sure that their performance is optimal, don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of an equine chiropractor.