Every rider at one point or another has noticed a subtle problem with their mount that often puzzles them. Perhaps their horse has started to toss its head at the trot, twist at the poll when turning to the left, cross canter to the right, refuse to pick up a certain lead, turn too wide on the second barrel or jump out of their stop. The horse may display a violent response to the rider’s directions: biting at the rider, bucking, pinning their ears or kicking; or something more subtle: not wanting to back all the way into the box, refusing jumps or missing short ones, not catching up to the steer, or simply a lack of hind end power.

These situations frustrate both rider and horse. Some are the result of a lameness issue in their limbs, and others are due to restricted movement of their neck and back. Chiropractic care by a professional can help restore that normal movement that a healthy spine should have, and in turn fix many performance issues that are not directly caused by a lameness. Additionally, restoring normal motion to a horse can prevent a lameness issue from developing due to abnormal compensation by the non-lame limbs. The majority of back and neck pain in man is due to chronic, repetitive joint stress and strains, which is exactly what can happen to our horses when we ask the same thing of them day in and day out. Consider that a number of injuries are not caused by a single traumatic incident, rather they develop from repeated activity of the same muscles, tendons and ligaments in the same direction again and again, which results in fatigue of those tissues and subsequent injury. Examination and care of equine athletes by a Veterinarian trained in chiropractic therapy can help to prevent and treat many of these subtle problems.

Chase Ratliff DVM