The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine provides chiropractic care to large animal patients in our hospital and to equine patients on the farm through our equine field service.
If you have questions about our chiropractic services or believe your animal may benefit from chiropractic, please contact us.
Dr. Rebecca Funk
Dr. Scott Pleasant
Equine chiropractic is a component of equine health care that focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the vertebral column) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects preservation of health. For example, reduced mobility between two vertebrae can affect the nerves that leave the spinal cord between these vertebrae. Alteration to the nerves can lead to problems such as pain, abnormal posture, or poorly coordinated movement.
Equine chiropractic is a form of manual therapy that uses short lever, high velocity, low amplitude, controlled thrusts. Forces are applied to specific articulations or anatomic regions (“adjustments”) to induce a therapeutic response via induced changes in joint structures, muscle function, and neurological reflexes. Chiropractic treatment does not replace traditional veterinary medicine; however, it can provide an additional means of diagnosis and treatment for a variety of musculoskeletal disorders.
Horses that may benefit from chiropractic care may present with many signs, the most common of which is pain. Horses with back pain often express this in their posture or in their refusal to work. A horse’s attempts to compensate for the pain by changing its posture and way of going can result in other problems such as joint problems. The following symptoms in a horse may indicate pain:
Alterations of the spine can affect muscle coordination and mobility of the horse, thereby causing decreased performance. The following signs may occur:
Qualified equine chiropractors are trained to recognize and treat back problems. However, riders, horse trainers and owners can monitor whether or not their horses are developing problems.
Examining mobility in your horse:
The horse should be able to move freely in all directions without tension, with or without a rider.
Feeling the muscles:
Examine the horse´s main muscle groups for pain, tension and asymmetry. The muscles of a healthy animal should be symmetrical; feeling firmly elastic but not too hard or too soft. If you place the muscles under moderate pressure, the animal should not show signs of being in pain.
Feeling the spine:
Feel the spine from the withers to the tail, paying attention to any elevations and protruding areas of bone. Compare the two sacral tubercles (the bony points of the pelvis which protrude from the croup on both sides of the spine) these should be level. Look for any protruding areas of bone in the neck.
Some information on this page is adapted from the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association.