Signs that your horse needs treating can be variable and subtle

Integrative therapy such as chiropractic and acupuncture can be used to treat existing back problems and disease, or to address subtle underlying problems that have gone unnoticed. 
Below are some of the causes and symptoms that may respond to treatment:


Equine athletes in hard work are prone to picking up tiny injuries to their musculoskeletal system known as 'microtraumas'. Horses may compensate for these by altering their way of going so they often go unnoticed to begin with. The horse isn't necessarily 'lame', but may show signs that something is not as good as it could be.

Prompt treatment would prevent microtrauma developing in to serious injury by restoring normal movement and improving the body's ability to heal itself by stimulating the nervous system.

Subtle Signs that the horse has spinal fixations
  • Cold Back- hypersensitivity to palpation, resenting mounting, bucking.

  • Behavioural Problems- rearing, resentment of girth/saddle, resenting being groomed, tail swishing.

  • Loss of performance- reluctance to move forward, loss of power, inability to engage hindquarters, decreased stamina, hollow outline, preferring one rein, not tracking up, refusing fences, difficulty with collection.

  • Head and mouth problems- resentment of the bit, head tilting, head shaking.

  • Stiffness. Difficulty bending one way, hanging on one side. 

  • Altered gait - bunny hopping, lead changes or problems striking off on the correct lead, disunited canter, shortened stride, poor extension.

  • Uneven muscle bulk, or holding the tail to one side, muscle atrophy, poor topline muscles.

  • Hip or pelvic bones that appear unlevel.

Causes of fixations and microtrauma

  • Trauma- e.g. falls, twisting over a jump, slipping, recovery from general   anaesthetic.

  • Rider- not sitting straight, poor schooling.

  • Poor conformation or shoeing

  • Badly fitting Saddle. Take care to check the reputation of your saddle fitter and ensure the fit is regularly checked- horses change shape!

  • Teeth pain - can result in neck pain.

  • Working- repetitive strain injuries, overstrain.

  • Birth trauma- to mare or foal

  • Pain- injury elsewhere will cause the horse to alter his gait, overloading other limbs and the neck and back

  • Lifestyle- lack of fitness, long journeys, eating from haynets or high hay racks, pulling back on the lead rope, lack of turnout.

Diseases that can respond to integrative therapy

  • Back Pain

  • lameness

  • Over-riding dorsal spinous processes (kissing spines).

  • Facet joint syndromes

  • Neck Pain

  • Arthritis

  • Sacroiliac Pain

  • Muscle Injury and soreness

  • Some visceral diseases such as recurrent colic, digestive problems, unexplained reproductive failure.