adventures with the vet

What to expect from a chiropractic appointment?

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed two things about Tristan.

First, he’s tracking up evenly behind for the first time in a very long time. Years, perhaps. I actually trotted him out for the vet this spring to see if she had anything to say about it. She thought it was perhaps some arthritis but mostly weakness and over-protecting. So I focused hard on getting both hind legs to step under in all of our work, and I stepped up our time on hills. It seems like that’s been successful!

Second, less positive, I’m hearing a popping sound from behind the saddle. Now: Tristan’s front legs have snap-crackle-popped for years when I lift them to pick up his feet. His joints just seem prone to air bubbles (apparently what that noise is) and it’s never directly correlated to weakness or pain. Multiple vets and the internet have told me it’s not a symptom in and of itself. I think it’s lower back, but it could be stifle.

However, he’s also been more sour in his warmup lately. Even as he’s tracking up better, reaching better, using his back better, he’s also stiffer through his warmup. More flailing. More reluctance to trot initially, and that’s a rock and a hard place for me: if I don’t push him to be forward right from the first step, I never get it. So when I push him to be forward, he’s unhappy but it results in a better ride after the warmup; when I let him shuffle along slowly until he’s more responsive, it’s a shit ride from start to end but at least he’s a bit happier at the beginning.

the goober in question after a recent dressage ride

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I have finally pulled the trigger on something I’ve thought about for a while now: scheduling a chiropractic assessment and adjustment. Vet is coming out tomorrow.

I’ve never had it done before. I haven’t had time to properly research it. I just know that a) it’s helped me a lot in the past b) a lot of people in blogland swear by it and c) the ways in which he is exhibiting sourness make me think it’s not a muscle soreness but a stiffness.

So, I crowdsource this: what should I expect? He’s generally stoic about pain; will he be too sore to ride after the appointment? Have you seen a huge difference in your horses, or no difference? Anyone with senior horses who uses chiro? Anything I should make sure to ask or discuss with the vet?

Obviously this will all be a conversation with the vet tomorrow too, but I’m fiddling my thumbs anxiously and hoping I’ve done the right thing so would like some opinions before we talk!

6 thoughts on “What to expect from a chiropractic appointment?

  1. I have found that my horses need the next day off. I also have found that the work holds better if the horse is also getting complimentary body work to help the muscles hold the adjustment

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  2. Chiropractic work definitely helps though the length of time it “holds” is different in each horse. I think it is a good idea to try, and I think having it done by a vet is a smart choice. It doesn't make sense to me to have someone work on my horse who cannot also help me diagnose and treat other related issues. I spent a lot of time and money on chiro for my old mare, Snappy, before she had to be put down and even though eventually her body/hind end failed, I do think it kept her happy and sounder longer than had I not had it done. Good luck! 🙂

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  3. I've had it done a few of times on my mare. She has only needed small adjustments each time, but has been out in the same places. I think I am usually told to give her a day or two off afterwardsm if your horse has bigger adjustments made expect 2 or 3 days off. The last time she was done she felt very soft everywhere in her body on my next ride. Wonderful feeling. Of course, it didn't last!

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  4. I've had it done a few of times on my mare. She has only needed small adjustments each time, but has been out in the same places. I think I am usually told to give her a day or two off afterwardsm if your horse has bigger adjustments made expect 2 or 3 days off. The last time she was done she felt very soft everywhere in her body on my next ride. Wonderful feeling. Of course, it didn't last!

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  5. The different horse chiropractors I have tried have different rules for afterwards. Some want them to have 3 days off, some no time off, some a day and then light work for a day. It's all over the place. I usually notice a difference the next time I ride.

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  6. ^ This. Yes. Both things. They should definitely have the next 24-48 hours off, and bodywork like massage helps them hold the adjustments for a longer period of time.

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