Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Friday, March 19, 2010

She Just Wasn't Doin' Right

I finally managed to schedule and keep an appointment with my equine chiropractor. The official diagnosis: ADR - ain't doin' right. My sweet Principessa was out in her hips, her ribs, her shoulder and her poll. The pain in her hip was bad enough that, when Dr. Jim stimulated the point, she flipped her head quite violently. Dr. Jim pointed out how tight and raised the left side of her back had become. This could be the cause of our saddle issues. I'm probably going to have to pay for a follow up visit, she was so out of whack. Until then, I'm to ride her and do her exercises (a list of things that will help hold her adjustment and indicate when something has gone haywire - again!)

For some, equine chiropractics sounds weird, froo-froo and just one more thing to eat up hard earned money. Part of me is not so sure about it but I can see the difference in Cricket after a session with Dr. Jim. So I just close my eyes, write the check and tell Cricket she's damn lucky she doesn't belong to Billy Bob down the road!

How do you know if your horse needs to see a chiropractor? Honestly, I don't know for sure. I know when Cricket is off. During farrier work, she'll pull on one leg because standing on the other hurts her hip. On the circle, she'll short stride or take weird hoppy steps with one back leg. I'm sure there are more subtle signs but these are the ones I know.

Here are some ways to evaluate your horse for possible chiropractic issues:
  • Watch your horse being led away from you. Do the hip bones come up evenly on each side of the spine as the horse walks or does one hip bone come more than the other?
  • Watch the tail. It should swing and flow from side to side rather than cocked to one side.
  • Watch the top of the tail - it should move like a sideways infinity sign with both sides being equal.
  • Trot your horse on a circle. Does one rear foot take a shorter step than the other? It may be subtle.
  • Still trotting on the circle, does the horse not want to weight one of his rear legs in one direction or the other?
  • Does your horse drag a hind leg in the trot? (i.e. like a locked stifle)
  • Does your horse struggle with smooth downward transitions?
  • Does your horse buck up when you ride? Not head down, "get off me" bucks but rather hopping with the back legs or kicking out to the side.
  • When asked to canter, is the horse switching lead in the back?
  • Does your horse suddenly scoot his butt under and try to bolt?
  • Does your horse move unevenly?
While qualified chiropractic care is not a replacement for good veterinary care, it can complement the traditional approach of most vets. Some lameness issues are caused by poor alignment and poor muscling rather than an injury. If you seek the care of an equine chiropractor, make sure you check out his/her credentials. A lot of damage can be done by someone who saw or read something and then hung out a shingle. Dr. Jim Reynolds, my equine chiropractor, is certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. They maintain strict standards and have a "find a doctor" function on their website.

So with any luck I should be back in the saddle this evening to start my "Countdown to Camp Carol" program.

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