Animal Chiropractic deals with the musculo-skeletal system, primarily the spine and the relationship of the spine with the nervous system.
The spine is a collection of irregular bones called vertebrae, that fit together in a specific order and articulate with each other through one or more pairs of facet joints, allowing movement while protecting the spinal cord. The spine allows range of motion in several planes, such as lowering and raising the head (flexion/ extension), bending the neck and body from side to side (lateral flexion), and shaking the head (rotation), just to name a few. Discs are present between each vertebrae to absorb the shock & concussion produced by movement. The horse’s spine, unlike the humans or dog’s, is a more rigid structure, with the majority of movement being in the neck and in the lumbar area just in front of where the spine connects to the pelvis (equivalent to our hips).
The spinal cord runs through the spinal column with nerves that exit between the vertebrae, from the inter vertebral foramin. As these nerves exit the spine, they divide into various branches and go to the joints, muscles, internal organs and skin. Nerve impulses travel from the brain and spinal cord, out of the spinal nerves to all parts of the body. Similarly nerve impulses travel back to the brain via the peripheral nerves and spinal cord carrying information as to the relative states of all the various areas of the body.
In general, horses like to please. So changes in attitude and their normal behavior can often be indicators of pain or discomfort. Here is a brief list of some ailments that need treatment by a chiropractor:
- Un levelness, especially in the pelvis or shoulders
- Uneven wear of shoes
- Asymmetry, such as stiffness to one side, or a disunited canter or cross-firing
- Sore areas along the spine, being cold backed
- Lameness after a fall or other accident, where alternative causes have been eliminated
- Unexplained deterioration in usual performance
- Uncharacteristic changes in behaviour or temperament e.g. rearing, bucking, refusing the gate, “cinchy” when saddled
Common problems and causes:
Trauma is the most obvious cause (such as getting cast in the stall)
- A fall, half-fall or slip while turning, cornering, or jumping
- Horses can also damage their backs by falling off the side of a ramp while being loaded into a trailer, or being thrown down or jarred in the trailer while hauled
- Slipping on ice, mud, smooth roads and slick grass
- poorly fitting saddles, tack or harnesses, tight brow bands
- Sore mouths will cause the horse to work with the head raised and the back hollowed to get away from the pain.