Preventing injuries and maximising performance.
Chiropractic and Acupuncture can be used not only to treat injuries, but to help prevent them occurring in the first place. By improving the state of your horse's health regular treatment also maximises athletic ability.
Fixations in the spine and muscle pain alter the horses gait pattern. They prevent the horse from properly engaging his hindquarters so he will lack power from behind. The spine will be unable to transmit power forwards and the horse will drag himself forward with his front legs instead. When moving like this he will be unable to raise his withers and round his neck properly. Good riders can mask this by forcing the horse into a 'correct' outline, but it will be unnatural for the horse and difficult to maintain.
The rider may notice this as a loss of power or willingness to move forward, a tendency to go in a hollow outline or preference for one rein. A racehorse may hang on one rein, pull hard, favour one lead leg, or be stiff and have difficulty jumping. Over time the horse will build muscle on the underside of the neck and lose muscle over his back, pelvis and hindquarters.
Not only will the horse's athletic ability be decreased, he will also fatigue more quickly as the body is so much less efficient and the muscles are painful.
Prevention is better than cure....
Regular Chiropractic care aims to keep the horse moving efficiently and effectively. This hopefully reduces overload of the front legs and lesions of the spine caused by working in abnormal gait patterns. Routine checks enable early detection and treatment of problems.
Ultimately the aim is to avoid the need for box rest and time off due to serious injury and permanent damage to joints, ligaments, tendons and bone.
When should routine treatments start?!
Foals can be treated within the first week of life. The trauma of passing through the birth canal can cause fixations in the spine so the earlier these are corrected the better.
Young horses can pick up fixations just like adults- especially when playing around in the field. Again in fast a growing horse these are better to be treated sooner rather than later so that the horse is symmetrical and evenly weight bearing during growth.
Yearlings and young horses going to the sales are more likely to walk well if they are moving in their natural gait pattern and have no pain or restrictions in their spine.