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What is Animal Chiropractic?

Animal chiropractic assesses a joint’s normal range of motion and determines if a joint is restricted within that normal range of motion. The decreased range of joint motion is known as a chiropractic subluxation (vertebral subluxation complex-VSC). A chiropractic adjustment is used to help correct the “stuck” joint or VSC.


The goal of any chiropractic care is to return a joint to its normal or optimal range of motion in an effort to re-establish neurologic transmissions. The adjustment will subsequently alleviate inflammation and pressure in and around surrounding nerves and soft tissues. Inflammation interferes with proper nerve conduction much like how static on a phone line makes it difficult to hear a conversation (thank you Dr. Patty for the wonderful analogy).


Nerves, along with the brain and spinal cord control all of the body’s processes. Removing the interference so they can function properly will allow the message to come through more clearly and ultimately enhance the bodies overall health. Chiropractic care helps the body use it’s innate (inborn) ability to heal itself, much like how the body knows how to heal a paper cut.“Animal Chiropractic is not meant to replace traditional veterinary care. It is not an alternative treatment, but rather an integrative method that when used in conjunction with good traditional veterinary care, will provide years of happy and healthy living. It is an effective and valuable means of restoring and maintaining their strength, vigor and well-being. And by exploring and treating the root causes of your animal’s aches, pains and illnesses, will ensure maximum improvement, top performance and an exceptional quality of life for the animal companions we love.” (Options for Animals College of Animal Chiropractic)

Chiropractic Intervention Signs and Symptoms 


​• Poor or reduced performance

• Abnormal Posture

• Discomfort when saddled (cinchy)

• Favoring one side (direction) over the other

• Reluctance to pick up a lead, inability to maintain or have the correct lead behind

• Traveling with a "hollow topline" (head/neck elevated & back hollow)

• Changes in posture or having an uneven topline

• Behavioral changes or hesitating to do things they normally do: picking up feet, stepping down out of a trailer, turning in either direction, refusing jumps

• Difficulty engaging the hind quarters or traveling long & low• Holding tail abnormally

• Head tilt, difficulty chewing, TMJ issues

• Uneven muscle development

• Changes in gait, lameness

• Stiffness when leaving a stall or during stretching

• Uneven pelvis or hips

• Tender spots along the back or withers

• Difficulty flexing at the poll, pulling one rein

• Difficulty getting up & down

• Muscle atrophy

• Back, neck, leg or tail pain

• Changes in behavior or attitude

• Pain and stiffness when moving or being touched

• Resistance to being ridden​​

The Chiropractic Exam

During the exam the doctor will watch your horse move, feel, or palpate, your horses’ joints. When a restricted joint is found, it is corrected by an adjustment. The adjustment is a very specific, high velocity, low amplitude thrust into the joint. After the adjustment, the joint is palpated again to be certain that it is moving more freely. The adjustments usually look like quick little pushes on the animal. “Bales” are used to stand on in order to obtain the correct angle to the spine. Most animals enjoy being adjusted and will appear to become relaxed.​

After the Chiropractic Exam

Following a chiropractic adjustment, most animals experience an immediate improvement in their mobility and pain. Some animals may become very playful immediately afterward, while some animals appear quiet, even tired. In rare cases, some horses will appear sore after an adjustment. The soreness is usually short lived, and they appear more comfortable within 24 hours.

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