Horses & Chiropractors

by Drs. Foster and Smith on December 9, 2011

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**Guest post from Monica S.**

Sterling getting his withers adjusted. Ahhhhhhhhh ... that's the spot!

Sterling getting his withers adjusted. Ahhhhhhhhh ... that's the spot!

A while back, a wonderful co-worker and friend wrote a blog titled Old Dog and the Chiropractor. She discussed the reasons why she was taking her dog to the chiropractor and what she had heard and hoped to gain from the treatments. I’ve never had my dog adjusted by the chiropractor, but I have used one for my horses for many years.

Let me give you some background. I attended EquiTouch® Systems Equine Massage Therapy Training in the fall of 1996. I spent two weeks on location and received my Level II Certification. It consisted of 150 hours of “hand’s on” training (massage & body work) as well as 6-8 hours a day of classroom studies, followed by the certification tests. I learned SO much, and was eager to get home and start working on my horses.

Rosie loves her adjustments. Here she's getting her withers and back worked on.

Rosie loves her adjustments. Here she's getting her withers and back worked on.

Massage seemed to loosen them up & give them a smoother way of moving, but there were some things that I just wasn’t able to correct. So I began my search for a quality Equine Chiropractor.

My older mare Genie was extraordinarily stiff in her neck and seemed to have a “hitch” in her stride that massage just couldn’t correct. I did some research and got the name of an animal chiropractor, Dr. Wayne Hietpas. I made an appointment for an evaluation and adjustment on their next run up to northern Wisconsin.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, I was considered a “Holistic” practitioner because of my massage work, but I’d never had a chiropractor work on any of my animals. The night before the appointment, in true Wisconsin fashion, we got 18″ of snow! Great! That didn’t stop the Hietpas’s. They made it up here right on time. Even got up the driveway to the barn, something I was not able to do with my little car.

Murphy's an old pro! He's getting his neck and back adjusted.

Murphy's an old pro! He's getting his neck and back adjusted.

He took a full history of Genie. Her health issues, supplements, and riding career information, and then did a thorough visual exam as well as checking her nerve response and watching her walk & trot. The coolest part was that my wonderful barn owner Sue walked & trotted her for us so that I could also see her movement.

Dr. Wayne took notes on what he saw & then began adjusting Genie. Genie has had a LONG career, both as a show horse, a breeding mare, and now as my pleasure mount. All those years of hard work added up to LOTS of issues.

Her neck was “stuck” where it joins the skull and needed to be “cracked” (like in the image to the right of Murphy). Multiple vertebrae along her neck were out of place as well. Her withers were “stuck” as well as her back vertebrae and hips. Dr. Hietpas adjusted her neck both ways and “popped” her withers and hips back. Her spinal vertebrae were also adjusted. Her knees and ankles were also “popped” back in place. The whole time Genie was licking & smacking her lips (a sign of contentment, relaxation etc).

This is Eva's first chiropractic adjusted. She's meeting Dr. Wayne and getting an evaluation.

This is Eva's first chiropractic adjusted. She's meeting Dr. Wayne and getting an evaluation.

After her entire adjustment was through (there really was too much to detail it all), Sue walked & trotted her off again. Oh. My. Gosh. I couldn’t BELIEVE the difference. When a horse is moving freely, and you watch it from behind, as it walks, its hips swing freely and watching its legs move in stride makes a figure 8. Also, their neck sways opposite from the side their hip is swaying. Before Genie’s adjustment, her one hip dropped and she lightly dragged that hoof as she took a step. Instead of her neck swaying side to side, it was a jerky up and down. Now, she was swaying like a back-up dancer! Her hips swung freely and her stride was smooth. She picked both hind legs completely off the ground with each step and her neck moved correctly to balance her.

I have to admit, it brought tears to my eyes.

First, because I had not realized just HOW BAD she was. When you are the one riding, leading, and working the horse, you don’t truly get to see the movement unless someone is videotaping it. I had NO IDEA that her movement had been so restricted. I could feel “something” when I rode and I knew there was issues that massage wasn’t helping, but I hadn’t realized the extent. I was truly ashamed that I had let it go for so long.

Genie, looking and most importantly, FEELING great!

Genie, looking and most importantly, FEELING great!

Second, because Genie looked SO happy. She sighed and looked completely comfortable. She looked at me as if to say “Thanks. I know you couldn’t fix it, but thank you for finding someone who could.” When we turned her back out into the pasture, she ran off up the hill as if she was a filly and not a “young” 21 years of age!

Genie is now a regular on Dr. Hietpas’s schedule about every 6 weeks. Since that first adjustment, both my late mare Sheba, and my new filly Rose have been added as his satisfied patients.

Have you had any experiences with an “Alternative” treatment with your pets? Massage, Reikki, Chiropractic or Accupuncture/Accupressure? Please share your experiences with us. We love to hear from you.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina Kusch December 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

I have been seeing a chiropractor for years and I can attest to the healing power of them! This is wonderful! What a great way to love and spoil your pets for life!

Carolyn March 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Thanks so much for the article. My granddaughter has a horse who was having some difficulties with painful areas of her spine. She had a chiropractor do an adjustment and the areas of sensitivity were relieved and her gaits improved and more balanced. #CELEBRATE

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