Physiotherapy and chiropractic work, although relatively new fields in horse care, are growing in popularity among owners who are looking for new ways to help their horses be comfortable and pain-free.? Physiotherapy uses a number of different techniques to help rehabilitate the horse, including stretching, massage, joint and soft tissue mobilization, and hydrotherapy.? Treatment is often sought for ligament, tendon and joint injuries, dysplasia of the hip or elbow, osteoarthritis, back pain, and muscle imbalance or gait problems.? Varying levels of intervention are available, depending on your horse?s needs. Seemingly healthy horses can also benefit from a physiotherapist, who can conduct a full exam and inform you of any underlying issues you might be unaware of, such as poor saddle fit.
Chiropractic work is different in that equine chiropractors work specifically on adjusting a horse?s spine.? In their treatment, chiropractors work on a specific joint in the spine, using their hands to stimulate nerve receptors within the joint.? This restores normal movement, and can stop pain and swelling.? Horses that show signs of lameness, sore backs, sensitivity to the cinch, and difficulty in maintaining collection or executing lead changes may show improvement following chiropractic sessions.
If you think that your horse could benefit from a session with a physiotherapist or chiropractor, first consult with your veterinarian.? When looking for a practitioner of either discipline, be sure they are registered and legally able to practice, and have them consult with your veterinarian prior to working on your horse.? If you can?t find someone by word of mouth, try asking for a few referrals.? Be aware that any medical treatment can be potentially harmful if done incorrectly, so anyone who handles your horse medically should be well trained and licensed to practice.