Jackie Leftwich BSc MSc AMC MMCA FRCC (Animal)
Chiropractor [McTimoney/STR/IAVC] (Qualified to treat humans and animals)
Registered with GCC and RAMP
Telephone: 07738 110570
E-mail: info@watersidechiropractic.co.uk

Equine Joint Health – are joint problems on the rise? Can McTimoney Chiropractic from Waterside Chiropractic help?

January 20, 2014  |   Equine Chiropractic,Human Chiropractic,Latest Posts   |     |   Comments Off

You may or may not be a ‘Horse or Hound’ reader, but if you are, you will undoubtedly have seen the feature in the 9th January issue where Horse and Hound invited expert riders and equine professionals to a round table discussion on the issues of joint disease and associated problems.  This was followed up by a few letters commenting on this article in the Horse and Hound 16th January issue.

One of the key messages from the feature was that it is up to the rider to balance their horse, ‘persistent poor training/crookedness within the horse can cause joint problems’ and ‘check that the rider is also not crooked’.  This is where McTimoney Chiropractic from Waterside Chiropractic can help, as explained below.

Our understanding of developmental and traumatic joint disease has improved over the last couple of decades due to advances in technology and the increasing availability and affordability of imaging techniques.  X-rays, MRIs and bone scanning have enabled more detailed investigation of joint issues and lameness and thankfully, most owners are looking for a definitive diagnosis prior to forming a treatment plan.

An understanding of the basic anatomy and physiology of the horse is a must for any horse owner.  Knowing what structures are involved and being able to identify lameness in its early stages can prevent a minor strain from becoming a more major problem.  Being able to recognise changes in your horse’s gait and balance are key to early identification.

Of course, equine conformation can predispose to such issues.  Heavy horses place more strain on the structures in the foot and the angle of the hocks, pelvis, shoulder and other bone structures may impact on how the ground reaction forces travel up the legs.  As the foot impacts upon the ground, the animal’s bodyweight acts downwards on to it.  The foot may sink into the ground (surface dependent), and there is an equal and opposing upward force from the ground, the ground reaction force.  There may also be some forward slippage of the foot, depending on the surface and shoe.  In an unbalanced foot, there may also be sideways forces.

So as Pippa Funnell correctly states in the 9th January issue, the way that the horse is shod is critical.  The old saying ‘no foot, no horse’ could not be more true.  Foot balance, which can only be attained through correct and sympathetic shoeing/trimming, is the basis of ensuring that your horse is balanced on its feet.  This minimises the strain on the succession of joints and their associated musculoskeletal structures that run from the foot and up the leg to the body of the horse.  So, a good and knowledgeable farrier is most important.

A balanced, upright rider with good core stability is also important.  Both horses and riders tend to have a weaker side.  All too often, the horse is having to compensate for the imbalance of the rider, placing more strain on the horse’s joints, resulting in increasing asymmetry of the horse, placing more strain on the musculoskeletal structures (normally) of the weaker side.  Pelvic misalignment of the rider can result in more weight being transferred through the stirrup and saddle on one side.  Equally, the rider can be compensating for the asymmetry of the horse, resulting in similar strains on the human body.  This is where chiropractic can be the key to improving symmetry and balance of both horse and rider.

So how can chiropractic help?  Horses, people (and other animals) can suffer from musculoskeletal problems.  Each joint will have an optimal range of movement but if the movement is restricted, the surrounding musculature and tissues will become inflamed, affecting the nerve function and flexibility of the joint.  Muscles then start to work asymmetrically and incorrectly, causing other compensations throughout the body.  This may then lead to other problems in areas not directly related to the original cause.  McTimoney Chiropractic from Waterside Chiropractic is a relatively gentle, whole body technique which aligns and balances the musculoskeletal system, improving the range of motion of the joints, relieving muscle imbalances and enabling the recipient (horse or rider), to use their body in a more balanced and symmetrical way.  By eliminating misalignments and improving nerve function, this allows the muscles to develop symmetrically and work evenly and correctly.  Left untreated, misalignments can result in abnormal nerve function and can manifest as pain, poor or decreased athletic performance, saddle slip, behavioural problems, gait problems, lameness and joint problems.

By treating both horse and rider, a holistic view of the horse and rider as a team is attained.  Waterside Chiropractic can treat both you and your horse enabling both of you to work and train correctly.  Contact Jackie Leftwich, McTimoney Chiropractor to arrange an assessment on 07738 110570 or by emailing watersidechiro@live.co.uk

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