Equine Chiropractic: The Answer?

Rio has been at Bay Yard since the beginning of March, and up until last week, had not met their vet yet. Shocking, I know. Apparently luck has been on our side lately in the health department, and I’m certainly not complaining. Since I have owned Rio, we have done hock injections every 6 months to make sure he is comfortable, as some arthritic changes when seen on his PPE. He last got them injected in mid January, so I mentioned to trainer that he was due and probably needed to meet their vet.


My precious got a deep conditioning while I watched lessons yesterday


Now, meeting a new vet is a big deal for me. I’m like that helicopter parent that shows up to my kid’s annual check-up with a 3 inch thick binder full of every time he has ever had a paper cut. Working in healthcare myself, I understand the importance of presenting a detailed medical history to a new practitioner. I know that some people might roll their eyes at me, but I really do think it’s vital for getting a feel for the “big picture” of a horse’s health. Prior to meeting New Vet I emailed him all the necessary info, aka PPE x-rays, other x-rays obtained over the years, and a chronological list of all procedures/treatments/meds that Rio has ever been subjected to. I’m nothing if not a type A personality.

I was pleased that New Vet displayed a thorough understanding of all the info I had e-mailed him during our consultation (he said it was very helpful, so I immediately liked him). He had already done Rio’s exam, and watched him on the lunge by the time I arrived, so we got straight to the findings. After asking me a few more questions, he recommended we NOT continue with hock injections for the time being. He is not a big proponent of joint injections, unless their is a very obvious need, with very noticeable results. Although I usually ‘felt’ like their was an improvement after injections, it was certainly not an obvious and noticeable change. I used to think that I could feel him getting close to needing them (aka the 6 month mark), but I noticed this time around, even though he is technically due (aka it’s been 6 months), he has not felt any different lately. If anything, he feels better then ever lately. Jumping great, hacking great- no issues. At this time, I cannot say that there is a NEED to inject his hocks, and if we did, I don’t know what their would be an obvious resolving of symptoms. So- injections are on hold for the time being.


equine chiropractic



But, if I WAS feeling some weirdness, and it wasn’t from his hocks, then what is it?


New Vet is also a chiropractor/acupuncturist. We talked about Rio’s somewhat weird way of moving behind. Although I’m used it, it does often look strange to the new observer. I have always chalked it up to his large size and him still growing/muscling, and possibly his hocks. Now that he is 7 though, he should pretty much be finished with any age related awkwardness. New Vet feels that the abnormal movement is likely related to this his conformation/roach back. He mentioned that his PPE back x-rays were very clean, but he does feel that their is a disturbance of the neurological signals occasionally, likely due to his back confo. He wants to take a bigger picture approach, and see if he can more correctly align the spine, which would allow for more correct muscle development over time, and hopefully diminish any signal disturbances to the hind end.

He feels confident that with time and continued proper conditioning,  chiro will make a big difference in his overall way of going. I have been suspicious of chiro in the past (Rio had 2 adjustments when I first got him, but I decided not to continue with it as I didn’t feel that it did anything). So, why is it different this time? Well… I’m not positive it is, but I’m willing to try it. New Vet is not only a very experienced vet, he has also been doing chiro for a very long time. I have heard many “miraculous” success stories of other horses he has treated from their owners. I feel that he has an in-depth feel for what Rio’s issues are, and he was able to explain to me what the plan is, and how he is going to achieve it. I like plans. A lot.

So, we are giving it a go! He did an adjustment that day (I liked that that it didn’t involve a lot of aggressive yanking and twisting), he will do him again in 2 weeks, and then again in a month, and we will go from there.


Below is a video showing Rio’s movement for those curious. (Trainer Julie is in the irons, I don’t have any good recent video with me flatting).



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  1. I hope you see an improvement from it! I’m a big proponent for chiro, but I do think getting real results depends on how good the person doing it is.

    1. Agree 100%. I like that I have heard some great results from this particular vet chiro, so my gingers are crossed that we will see some long term success.

  2. I’m with ya, I feel chiro is very “woowoo”, I did use a chiro on my first horse though and felt pretty confident since the chiro was also a veterinarian. That actual DVM accreditation made me feel a lot better (and also his diagnosis was reassuring as well). Hopefully the new vet is able to have Rio feeling his best!

    1. Exactly! I feel better this time around since the person doing the chiro is also a vet. I guess it feels more “credible” to me. NOT saying their aren’t good equine chiropractors that aren’t vets, it just personally makes me feel a bit better.

  3. yea i can totally understand not wanting to do injections just bc the calendar says they’re “due.” i’ve never dealt with injections before my current horse, but have tended to think about scheduling based on a) how he’s currently doing (he tends to get noticeably back sore when his hocks are bothering him) and how he flexes; and b) what his upcoming few months look like in terms of workload. it’s not really an exact science tho for sure… hopefully this good chiro work can help extend out your schedule!

    1. I agree. I think it was all in MY head, and I convinced myself he needed them because it had been 6 months. I also came from a barn that was pretty injection heavy, so I used to have more of that mindset. I’m actually really excited to see how he does without them, and see what the chiro does over time.

  4. I’ve always been more of a wait till they need it type with the injections. Most of my horses could go a year in between. I have noticed that your Rio moves a little different behind (similar to my Rio oddly enough!). Hopefully the chiro stuff can help that!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees it (although I think that it is more visible in person). I am also very interested to see if long term chiro can actually change the way he goes. I guess we will see!

  5. I’m a big proponent of chiropractic for my horses. I’ve noticed a difference in each horse I’ve had worked on, and I also think that it helps keep my horses more sound. By addressing smaller issues more often, I avoid bigger issues that can come up because of the horse compensating for small pain somewhere else.

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