By Amy Kathleen Miller

I recently had my horse, Gypsy, checked by a horse chiropractor.  What, you ask?  There is such a thing as a horse chiropractor, you ask?  Yes, there are horse chiropractors, and horses do need them.

Let me explain.  Last year I would go to put on the girth (a long leather binding used to keep the English saddle on), and Gypsy would act — how we describe it — “cinchy,” where she keeps turning her head and acting terribly annoyed because of pain or the girth being done up too tight.  Also at this same time, she threw her head quite a bit and she was a little annoyed about her head being held down.

Cheyenne last year would throw her head down hard and let out a big rolling kick from her hind legs when I would ask her to go into a canter.  She would pin her ears to her head like it was uncomfortable to ask her to even give me a nice little canter around the arena.  So I eventually asked my trusty old horse chiropractor to come out and examine them.

First, he wanted me to lunge the horses around on a lunge line so he could see if they would show any unsoundness, or stiffness, if they were asymmetrical on both sides of their bodies in both directions in all three gaits — walk, trot, and canter.  Then he would examine their reaction to having a plastic pointy item, not sharp at all, run gently down their back on both sides of the spine.  He would run it along the neck, along the crest, the top part of the neck where their mane comes out.  He’d pick up their hooves and examine the legs and see how moveable the hoof is, then check to see if there is a reaction through the chest and along the ribcage.  He examines the whole body.

Last year, both horses were found to be out in the chest, ribs, and the neck for Gypsy.  Cheyenne was out in her hind quarters on both sides.  Watching the chiropractor put everything back in place was neat too.  He would perform some acupuncture on the horses by putting needles in the chest, hips, neck, etc. Then he would give them vitamin B in the sites were the needles were.  He then might take the legs and move them in such a way to pop them back into place — the neck, chest, or whatever was out.  After the whole thing was over, he then gave me a regimen of stretches and exercises the horses need done regularly in order to get better, such as — since Cheyenne’s hind quarters were out — walking her on a loose rein and perhaps light trot and not for very long.  I could not collect her for about two weeks.  I had to stretch her legs out before riding.  Gypsy had to have leg stretches and neck stretches as well.  I had to take it easy on her rides while she healed.

After chiropractic work, both horses were stiff for a while.  They usually are until the muscles adjust to the new placement of the bones.  After they get the adjustments, they usually have a two-week check-up, then after that they should be good.

Most recently, Gypsy would get a little testy with me while I would ride her bareback — doing some head tossing and pinning her ears when I would ask for a trot or a canter.  She would even kick up her heels, so I just wanted to know if she was out again.  So the doctor came out again and watched me ride.  Gypsy behaved when he was watching, go figure.  She also showed that she was absolutely sound.

It all comes down to attitude.  I will have to work her slowly and surely through this stage and do it in a manner where she knows she needs to do it but I am not going to beat my horse.  It could be the fact that students are easy for her and I challenge that myself, which she doesn’t like.  I am told that it is not uncommon for a horse to do this after having students ride, then act up for the original trainer.   I have a lot to learn about horses’ reaction to riding with students.  Gypsy is a good horse and I know, without a doubt, that she and I will figure it out together.

Editor’s Note:  “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.

Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media


4 thoughts on “AMY’S ANGLE: A visit from the horse chiropractor

  1. Amy, when I was a kid my extended family had a horse that was a good kid’s horse. They had a ranch and we would ride him in the pasture and jump the irrigation ditch. As we rode away from the house he would grunt and grunt and grunt. Then on the way back he was happy and lively. My Mom was raised around horses and I can’t remember how it came that she was riding him. But after they were a distance away, the horse started his grunting. We had explained the grunting but she wasn’t prepared for how bad it was. She got off the horse convinced that no horse could grunt like that and not be very sick. She walked him a LONG way back and we were really worried because it got late. When we heard the story everyone just laughed and laughed that Birthday (horse’s name) had got the best of her. Unrelated but I thought you might enjoy the story. Still makes me laugh to think about it.

    1. I guess Birthday knew how to get certain people off his back by doing that and making them feel as if he were sick. That is funny. My sister had a horse that all the kids liked to just sit on while she was eating. So one day they all piled on her. Then in a distance she heard another horse whinny so she started trotting and one by one the kids plopped off her back and then started to run after her. My sister says it was one of the funniest things she ever saw.

  2. I can picture. My Mom always insisted we ride bareback so we didn’t get hung up in a stirrup if we fell off. Birthday would let us ride him for hours until he was finally finished with us. Then he would sit just like a dog. We would kick and hold his mane but eventually we slid off and he would walk home a few feet ahead of us the whole way. We even brought windfall apples and carrots to entice him to let us grab the bridle. Rarely he would relent.

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