Chiropractic of the horse


To achieve the full performance level in our horses the basic requirements we need are unrestricted flexibility of the spine, full functional capability of the extremities and musculature and analgesia in movement.
The chiropractor examines the flexibility of each vertebra of the spinal column. With restricted movement in an intervertebral joint the diagnosis "vertebral subluxation complex" (VSC) is made, better known as stuck or locked vertebra. This means a functional misalignment of the vertebra or the locked joint, which causes a restriction of the normal range of motion of this joint.
VSC will lead to increased muscular tension, stiffness, pain and to a reduced performance.
If the mobility of certain areas of the spine is restricted, the horse will compensate the lack of flexibility of the spine through changes in posture. Due to this compensation other areas of the spine or extremities will be heavily used, which will lead to more vertebral subluxation complexes, strained ligaments and tendons and stressed joints of the extremities.
The restricted range of motion of the intervertebral joints can also effect the spinal nerves which emerge between those vertebras.
A chiropractic treatment can not "magically" remove already existing joint deformations or chronic disorders, but it can remove compensation mechanisms, secondary locked vertebras and muscular tenseness and improve the well-being.
Especially in young horses, before or during the braking in and in foals after birth, a chiropractic treatment as a prevention of problems of the musculoskeletal system is very useful.

Cause of vertebral subluxations

  • traumas like falls, stumbling, being cast
  • joint problems or aching extremities
  • lameness
  • lack or absence of exercise
  • seat issues of the rider
  • neglected hoof care or poor shoeing
  • incorrectly fitted / badly fitted saddles
  • high performances in all disciplines can strain the spine in different ways
  • general anaesthesia
  • birthing problems / hard labour
  • age

Possible signs for decreased range of motion of the spine

  • listlessness, reluctance to move
  • decreased performance and motivation
  • abnormal posture / malposition
  • uneven gaits, shortened strides
  • problems in bending and going on the left / right rein
  • problems in collection / engagement and lateral movements
  • refusing to jump
  • difficulties in forward - down work and stretching
  • problems in shifting weight to the hindquarters
  • problems going on the bit
  • difficulties to give way in the poll and neck
  • difficulties in going on the right or left leg
  • dropping of the back
  • abnormal tail carriage
  • dragging of the rear feet
  • uneven wear of the hoofs
  • rearing, bucking or other defensive reactions

Symptoms for pain

  • behavioural changes
  • putting ears back and biting while grooming or saddling/tacking up
  • frightened or tense facial expression
  • disobedience whilst being ridden
  • horse is evading the rider through back dropping or head shaking
  • abnormal tail movement
  • sensitivity to touch