These integrative therapies can be applied to any horse of any age, to treat a large number of conditions or to keep the health status. They don't have secondary effects and therefore they are a great option when the result of their conventional treatment is disappointing or when the horse is in competition and the use of drugs are contraindicated due to the legislation and the withdrawal times. Under current FEI and BEF rules, Chiropractic, Acupuncture and LLLT can be used safely, effectively and legally on competitive animals even on the day of competition.
A veterinary chiropractor works by fully examining the patient, the history, gait analysis and mobility. They are trained to recognise and treat subluxations within the body. Treating these subluxations restores the function of the problem area. Indications for chiropractic care include problems involving the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system.
When should my horse have chiropractic?
- Before being backed. Inquisitive and playful foals often get themselves into scrapes, so it is a good idea for them to be checked over before starting work. They cannot train correctly if vertebral subluxation complexes are present.
- Regular checks to growing youngsters between 3 and 6 years old maximise the opportunity to achieve skeletal symmetry when they reach maturity at 5-6 years of age.
- After any fall or other trauma eg pulling back when tied up. If the horse is stiff and alters its way of moving, the horse’s brain accepts this pattern of movement as ‘normal’ after just a month. Prompt chiropractic treatment helps to restore the horse to optimum movement and function.
- Routine checks of all ridden horses are recommended to detect problems in the early stages. Competition horses in particular should be examined regularly to help maintain and enhance their performance
- In pregnancy, the pelvic ligaments soften to allow delivery of the foal. Checking mares within 8 weeks of foaling helps to ensure the pelvis remains as symmetrical as possible.
Recognising Problems in the Horse:
- Decreased performance.
- Abnormal posture.
- Snapping, pinning ears back when saddled.
- Evading when working from behind.
- Swishing tail.
- Disobedience/avoidance when jumping.
- Difficulties when collected or in lateral gaits.
- Sensitivity to touch.
- Unusual itching.
- Abnormal sweating.
Acupuncture is often sought as a pain relief for muscle or joints problems, but it can also be used for many other problems, such as:
- Musculoskeletal problems such as: back pain, tendonitis, arthritis, laminitis, navicular syndrome, stifle, stiffness, temporomandibular joint pain.
- Neurological problems: wobbler's syndrome, facial paralysis.
- Respiratory problems: RAO, exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage.
- Gastrointestinal problems: colic, stomach ulcers, poor appetite, obesity.
- Reproductive problems.
- Immunological problems.
- Skin problems: urticaria, allergy, sweet itch.
- Ophthalmic problems: recurrent uveitis, conjunctivitis, nonresponsive corneal ulcers.
- Behavioural problems: headshaking, windsucking, stress.
Electroacupuncture in horses is especially interesting for treating:
- Back pain: like "kissing spine".
- Muscle loss: very evident after a long period of rest or after immobilisation of any limb.
- Headshaking: this is a nightmare for many owners that see how the problem continues after trying many different treatments. There are many papers in the medical literature reporting the significant pain relief following treatment with EA on people suffering from trigeminal neuralgia (nerve commonly affected in the headshaking). In the recent years a new veterinary treatment called PENS (Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) has shown a good result for treating this condition. PENS is a hospital treatment. Recently it has been proved that EA can be used to stimulate the nerve in a similar manner, but can be done in the horse’s home environment and does not require expensive equipment or heavy sedation.
LOW-LEVEL LASER THERAPY (LLLT):
Low-Level Laser Therapy can heal and relive pain and is popularly used for the following conditions:
- Musculoskeletal problems such as: arthritis, back pain, laminitis, splints, spavins, capped hocks, muscle fatigue, synovitis, joint injury, tendon injury, ligament injury.
- Skin problems: hoof abscess, hoof thrush, mud fever, bruising, over-reach injuries, rain scold, sore gums, sunburns.
- Pain management from trauma & post-surgical wounds.
- Neurological problems: neuralgia, neuropathic pain, nerve root irritation.
- Wound healing and cosmetic repair of scars.
- Degenerative disc disease and kissing spine.