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22 March 2019   
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The Horse and Chiropractic Treatment

The horse's spine is unlike that of the human or the dog's, as it is a more rigid structure. Most of the movement is in the neck and the lumbar area or the loins that are just in front of where the spine connects to the horses pelvis (equivalent to our hips). Often tension can be set up in the muscles, which will lead to stiffness preventing the horse from extending properly and affecting the overall performance of the horse. Sometimes these problems are compounded by the way we ride, many horses are not encouraged to perform enough work "long and low" to stretch through the topline muscles before bringing them into their collected outline.

Many things can affect the horse's back; injury even if it has just "tweaked" something while rolling; conformation; shoeing; fitness; training; concussion; the way in which the horse is ridden; the saddle and/or other articles of tack i.e. draw reins, side reins, chambons and double bridles (all of which have their uses, but can create problems in the wrong or inexperienced hands). Often back problems in the horse go unnoticed or they may be attributed to behaviour problems.

Some of the signs of back problems in the horse might be; difficulty working in straight lines; not striking off on the correct lead leg at canter; uneven paces or lameness; shortened strides; problems undertaking lateral work; working in a hollow outline; favouring circling on one reign as apposed to the other i.e. finding bending easier on one reign - or being one-sided; becoming disunited behind at canter i.e. the back legs not following the front leg lead correctly, giving a very bumpy uncomfortable ride.

These evasions are often caused by the horse trying to compensate for pain, however slight, by changing the way it carries or balances itself. If the horse continues to evade pain it can develop tension elsewhere in the body and excess strain to other parts of the back that can affect its performance or behaviour even after the original cause has gone.

In today's world of competitive riding we expose the horse to a range of different stresses related to the different elements that make up the varied disciplines of horsemanship. Dressage, showing, eventing, cross county, steeplechase, show jumping, driving, endurance, racing, hunting and polo all test the horse to the limits. Our horses need to be ultra fit to achieve what is expected of them.

Chiropractic treatment can help your horse to deal with the stresses and strains of competitive riding. It is also recommended following any traumas to ensure the comfort of the horse and to allow it to work at its peak performance. After a severe fall a vet should always be called to check the horse before a chiropractor is used. Chiropractic treatment is also recommended for the rider with back problems, to prevent their problems affecting the performance of the horse.

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