Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"Well, he's not a Train Wreck."

My Boy had his chiropractic appointment yesterday. This was my first experience with a chiro appointment ever, for horse or human. I had also never met the vet was that was coming to do it. I was a nervous wreck. I mean really, you think the horse was going under the knife, for crying out loud. I had knots in my stomach the minute I woke up. And that wasn't from the taco casserole I had the night before. It had Frito's in it. Seriously. It was delicious.

It didn't help the vet was late. At least I got two calls, one from the veterinarian office, and one from the vet herself, saying she was running behind. That was nice. But waiting an additional 45 minutes did not quiet my butterflies. It was worse than the dentist's office waiting room.

She finally arrived and went to say hi to my silly pill. He was SO terrified of her. She was a soft-spoken, blonde, Norwegian-looking gal. But oh no, STRANGER-DANGER! She has tortured horseys with needles! Stay away, stay FAR away, you needle-toting lady! It even didn't even help that she admitted to him that she had a fondness for Appy's and in fact had one of her own at home. Goodness!

We headed up to the arena, where she asked me to walk, trot, and lope My Boy both ways in a circle on the lounge line. She wanted to see him move out and transition gaits. Then she began working on him.

I wish I could have audio-tape or video recorded the chiropractic work because I think I missed parts of it, both what she did and said. By the end of the session, My Boy was standing very well, and would shake his head or lick his lips after certain areas were worked on. She gave him handfuls of grass throughout to keep him happy. Smart woman, she figured out the way to my boy's heart!
I was impressed that someone can do chiro work on a horse. The vet laughed and said he is a strong, muscular boy! She compared him to some of the Arabians she's worked on, how different his muscles are. She also does chiropractic work and acupuncture on dogs, as well as regular equine veterinary work.

Afterwards, as we were walking back down from the arena, she said, "Well, he's not a train wreck!" That was a relief! Because I just pleasure ride, she didn't even think he was a candidate for anything like hock injections. She did mention that he has upright hocks, and he is not designed for reining. Interesting, since that was what he was trained and used for in the past. She said he uses his hocks well, and does not drag his toes.

Here is a funny edited picture of the summary chart she gave. I will write out her exact comments, but it was interesting to see the pink and yellow highlighted areas. The pink highlighted areas are the "chiropractic subluxation complex" (huh?) and the yellow highlighted areas are "area of additional soreness."
Here is the vet's written summary:

1) Conformation- well built but very upright in hocks.

2) Movement- grade 1/5 left hind lameness and mild resentment of canter but able to take both leads okay. Can anyone help me with what a grade 1/5 lameness means. I did not notice this until after she had left. I might have to call back for clarification. I typically ask a lot of questions, but I missed this one!

3) After initially being tight and nervous he let me get good adjustment on him. Yep, that sounds like my spotted pill.

4) Main areas of tightness were neck and lower back. He also is stiff in both hocks and LH fetlock.

5) Use Surpass (topical anti-inflammatory) on both hocks prior to rides. Use BUTE- give 2 grams night before long ride or shoeing. Then give 2 grams the morning of.

6) Do neck stretches nose to hip 3x/side, 3x a week. She suggested using a treat to get him to bend around, and to do it from the ground, not the saddle. Treat? My Boy will love this exercise!

7) Add canter work. Great, more third gear. Time for some anti-anxiety meds. For me!

8) Diet- switch to grass hay. I'd mentioned switching him off of the alfalfa since he's so gasey. She also said he does not need to put on any more weight. My poor Sausage Boy!

9) Repeat in two months.

So, My Boy got today off. I will be curious to see if he moves any different the next time I work him. Because of arthritis developing in his hocks, he will most likely always be stiff. And his right side has been compensating for his left (something I did not think about) so that was interesting.

I am glad I did this for My Boy. Now I know of some stretches I can work on, and that it is okay to give him bute once in a while for soreness if we do long rides.

Have you ever had chiropractic work done on your horse(s)? What was your experience, did you find it helpful? Any additional advice for my future appointments?


  1. I have Abu done very regularly!! About once a month with an Equine Body Worker(shameless promotion here of Abu's staff I also have the chiro about 4 times per year. It seems to more often the less work they need. I see he has some soreness over the loin area, please check in to the thin line pads, you can google and they will give you a coupon if you order direct. I have both horses in them and the difference is amazing!! Both bodyworker and Chiro noticed a huge difference in Abu within a month of getting those pads. I have a full before and after ride stretch routine that I do and it sounds like she gave you some stuff to work on, DO IT!! it makes a big difference. You can get some really good books on the subject as well. Good Luck

  2. Interesting post....lameness is graded from 1 to 5 in degree of severity with 1 being slight.

  3. I have had all mine worked on numerous times by an equine chiro. The horses love it, actually. They average about twice a year for a "Tune Up". Good stuff.

  4. Oh fun!! I bet he loved it. Some of my friend's show horses get done a few times a year. I have never had one done. I have a mare right now that might need it.
    He is a handsome devil.
    Oh, and I sold our Appy today :( I will miss my project horse.

  5. Hey Pony Girl! Congrats on your award from Train Wreck :)

    Now about chiro & horses... some vets don't "believe" in it. I say boo! It sure as heck works for ME. So my horses get fairly regular chiro work and once in awhile a massage. (A real massage, not my pathetic attempts at one! lol)

    And now I have to admit something. I have finally read your blog from start to finish! I LOVE your blog. (I hope one day mine is as good as yours) :) Reading what you write is like listening to a good friend. THANK YOU for writing your blog!!

  6. Oh geez, I forgot to finish my comments on chiro! lol
    The lady that does chiro on my horses also does laser therapy. I definately notice a difference after she's worked on any of "my kids". Especially for my older mare and my appy gelding.
    If you've never seen a poll be adjusted it can be kinda shocking. :x
    The horses know HV now and when she comes to work on them they kinda sigh and relax, very neat!

  7. Hubby uses Chiro's on clients horses when he can 'feel' the need. He then can "feel" the results! You'll be glad you did this for Big Boy! And he be thankin' you too! Yep, I worked for a vet a few yrs ago...they think it's hokey pokey...but the Vet's have been trying to get laws changed, anyhow, that would deem chiro's, massage, dental,farriers, i.e. as performing "vet practices" w/o THEIR authorization & presence..a crime! Luckily....that has not happened yet!!!

  8. I think I felt better that this was a veterinarian that also practices chiropractic work. In fact, the vet that did My Boy's vaccinations recommended her (well, they work at the same clinic so that is no surprise.) But I know my sister's vet has also recommended chiropractic work for one of her mares. I know farriers and veterinarians work closely together to deal with lameness and hoof issues. Makes sense that vets and equine massage therapists/chiropractors could, too?

  9. Glad that your boy got all checked out and adjusted. I've heard equine chiro is great if you have a good practitioner - which you do, by the sounds of it. I've never had it done on my horse, but I know lots of people that have.

    20 metre - I've just spent the last 15 minutes drooling over thinline pads. Good thing they don't ship to Canada! They are really nice!

  10. I have to be honest here. I am just a country girl and honestly had never even heard of an horse having a massage and/or a chiro visit. My farrier sold a horse and was told the first thing they did when they bought him was schedule a massage. I thought, "they must have a lot of money!"

    I am thinking that is something my mare would really benefit from. If I may ask about how much does a visit like this cost?

  11. I have used three different horse chiropractors, and have found one I sincerely appreciate. One was (imho) a naturalistic wacko that, after four visits, always found "something" wrong with my horse. Didn't matter I didn't feel anything wrong, she always did. The last visit with her involved pulling on his tail, and "feeling bad energy".. wacko!

    The last chiro appt I had done on my OTTB, he was clearly sore on his back, worse to the right than the left, and incredibly grumpy. Had the chiro work-up, accupressure & accupuncture (which he fell asleep for), three days off and some Chinese anti-inflammatory called "Body Sore", and he's been great ever since.

    Chiro cost certainly depends on who you have perform it. The "wacko" cost a fortune every trip, while the latest was about $100 for the chiro, and additional costs for accupressure, accupuncture, and more for the meds.

    If you've got a horse that's uber-sensitive to joint pain, bucking, kicking out, incredibly unbalanced one direction or the other, or irreguarly lame, it's worth the money. After a "soundness check" at a regular vet...

    Enjoying reading your riding updates. Learned to ride on an Appy.. I'm a huge Appy-fan.

  12. Hi Pony girl! Nice to meet you and your Boy! Congrats with the award from Train Wreck! Glad to hear you horse is in good shape! I went to see a equine-chiropractician for my Quarter mare Chexy. She had the most weird thing with one of her nostrils, as if some nerve was blocked. Unfortunately the man wasn't as good as the one you had and a bit of a charlatan. Even though Chexy enjoyed the "massage" the problem wasn't solved. It turned out that since we stopped feeding her "horse granulate" and she is just on grass the nervous thing just disappeared.
    You have a great blog and I'll be reading some more!

  13. Equine Chiro ROCKS. So does good massage. Think about it- they are athletes, being asked to perform very "athletic" jobs. A human athlete benefits from chiro and massage, right? For improved performance?.... I have seen wondermous changes post chrio and massage. WONDERMOUS!

    Interesting note: you can no longer as an average Joe go to take equine(or canine/ feline for that matter,) chiro courses. You must either be a DVM or a people Chiro already.

    Glad you had him done! Bet the Big Pill feels much better next time you ride him... ;)

  14. TRAINWRECK!!! Hey what's wrong with a Trainwreck!! I thought maybe you were dedicating a post to me? Uh huh! I see how you are!LOL!!
    I had a buckskin that I raised from the day he was born. (That's a whole other story)
    Anyway he colic one morning. Thankfully our wonderful neighbor saw him and, got him up.He couldn't bend his right back leg after that day. He would drag it! Someone told me to call the chiro! I was hesitant, but would try anything at this point! That afternoon a little man came out, (seriously he looked like he was off the set of the Wizard of Oz!!) He pushed a bale of hay to the side of my baby, and proceeded to work on him. Within an hour he was moving, still a little stiff, but his leg was working. The next day he was moving a little quicker. By the end of the week he was running around! So to those who scoff at "horses needing adjusted by a chiropractor!" I would take my horse to a dentist if it helped him get out of the pain he was in!! Glad your boy is not a "Trainwreck!"

  15. I haven't found anyone that I'd trust to come do it close enough out here, but when I was in Michigan I watched a chiro/acupuncture specialist work on a bunch of different horses. They obviously loved it.

    The one that made me really sit up and take notice was this incredibly flighty Arab gelding that was a huge handful to deal with. He'd never been treated before, so it was all new to him. The chiro had been doing chiro or massage and then acupuncture as needed on the rest of the horses, but this one wouldn't stand and kept knocking her off the hay bales she had set up. He was really stiff and ouchy when she could get a hand on his back. Finally she said, "Okay, before we give up on this, lets just try the acupuncture first." Amazingly, when the second needle when in he just relaxed. Head dropped, hip cocked, licking his lips.... She finished up with the needle part, did some adjustment and massage, and he just leaned into whatever she did.

    Part of his initial reaction might have been that he thought he was going to be ridden and it was going to hurt, but what she did really did seem to make him feel better.

  16. Hey, I just stumbled upon your blog and love it. I also have an appy that you can read about on my blog. My Guy has never had a chiro appt but we did some light therapy this winter. He is usually not too keen on other people touching him, especially in the non traditional places like his hind legs and under his belly and stuff. He was fidgety at first but relaxed into it well. His areas of soreness were his front end (hence the downhill build) and areas on his neck. It was really interestering to see. I'lll keep reading your blog!

  17. Wow! It is so cool to read about everyone's experiences with equine chiro and/or massage!

    I see that KD already explained the whole lameness grade to you, so you should at least have some peace of mind about any lameness issues with My Boy's hocks.

    Isn't it interesting that he was used as a reining horse, when that was probably the last thing he should have been used for?

    I have also used chiro, massage and accupunture on our horses...throughout the years, and have found that it helped immensely. Do you remember the whole Linda Tellington Jones craze back in the 80's and 90's? I went and learned her TTEAM methods, way back when, and my horse really enjoyed it. Do you think that I remember any of it anymore? NOPE!

    Anyway...I am glad that it was a good experience for you and your Boy, and a "recipe" book by Sienna, would be too funny!! She has what vets call a garbage gut, and can eat just about anything!!! In moderation of course :)

  18. I am a FIRM believer in Chiropractic care for horses. I just wished that the vet that I used was still around. He was INCREDIBLE. His magic hands saved several horses. I learned valuable lessons from him in detecting what was going wrong with horses, what to look for and how to feel it too.

    I see kd and Mrs Mom already explained the lameness scale and the requirements to become a chiro. Personally, I prefer the chiro to be a vet. I have used a couple of people chiros and they just don't seem to "fix" the problem as well as the vet did.

    Another tidbit for you-the "reining" horse has evolved since your Appy Pill was trained for it. As with any event that becomes popular-people start out using horses that they can train to do it and then conformation/temperment/ability evolve from there.

  19. I've used our local chiropractor twice now. I'm not sure how effective he is, if at all. I know chiropractic is important, I just wish we had a more thorough one around here. He's very inexpensive though.

  20. Hey! POny Girl! I slam forgot-- congrats on the award from TrainWreck!! You Go Girl!

  21. I did Chiro on Sam a few times. I have yet to do Frost. Mainly because his leg is sucking all the money out of my wallet at a pretty staggering rate, so the rest of his body has to wait! hehe.

    With all my care and caution, Frost developed a blister from the suprass. I will have to take a pic of it now, its ga-ross! My vet told me that light colored horses are more likely to get sores and blisters from it. I would wash it off, it was me. GOOD luck with it though!

  22. 1/5 with 5 being the worse. 1 is so barely lame it isn't usually obvious except after a lameness test. She must of done one?

    A 1 would be a few "off" steps after she did a test.

  23. Hi Beth, she did not do a lameness test. She just watched him move out at all 3 gaits, in both directions. He does gimp a little going to the left, on his left hind leg. It's very subtle but I can see it.

  24. I found this post fascinating!
    Thanks for sharing yours and My Boy's experience with chiro.
    Darn you! Now I want to do this with Baby Doll, too!


  25. Who knew? What a great owner you are! Our horses should be so lucky.

  26. Gorgeous horse!

  27. The absolute best money I spend on my horses is chiro and massage work. I have 4, and we rotate unless issues arise. 2 one month, the other two the next, so they end up getting adjusted every 8 weeks or so.

    When you first start, depending what was adjusted and how long it was "out" it can sometimes pop back, because the muscles around the joint got "used to" it being that way and will sort of push it back.

    We rotate through the massage work one horse at a time, so each horse gets a series of 2-3 massages per year unless something comes up and they need more.

    My massage therapist has found that horses and riders often have very similar muscle issues - so now she does me each time she's out for the horses - I am seeing a big difference in my riding progress.

    Anyway, it's great that your horse wasn't totally out of whack and enjoyed the work. Mine all line up when the green truck drives in. :)

  28. Whoops, forgot to add re: the arthritic changes in the hocks - I'm doing Adequan IM injections on both my older horses and it is very effective. My oldest horse (25) has arthritic knees and the Adequan has made a big difference. My 19 year old horse is still riding like he was 10, so for him it's a preventive measure.

    My vet recommends doing the entire course (4-7 weeks per horse, one injection per week) three times a year, so every 4th month - instead of the initial loading dose and then monthly. Different people recommend different protocols, but this one really seems to get the most out of the injections for us.

  29. You got some great info.
    I have been to the chiropractor once when my neck so whacked. I actually hurt more after the first 2 times I went, then I got better.
    I sure hope MY BOY will benefit from his go with the chiro.

    happy horsin' around.


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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