It’s a scene we’ve all experienced before- (if you haven’t, I don’t mean to jinx you, but it’ll happen at some point!) you’re giving your horse some well deserved TLC and instead of leaning into the brush as it crosses his back like he usually does, he dips his back and pins his ears. Or your Steady-Eddy lesson horse starts flipping her head and inverting her back when you ask your student to demonstrate a collected sitting trot. Maybe even your GP jumper begins stopping at fences he normally wouldn’t even bat an eye at. Point is, we all start to worry when our horses begin acting in ways unusual for them. When back soreness is the culprit for these actions, we as horse owner’s have several options of professionals who we can count on to help us diagnose and treat the problem. Question is, who are you going to call first (the Ghost Busters is not the correct answer in this scenario) the vet, the chiropractor, or your saddle fitter?
As a former Veterinary Technician for a busy ambulatory veterinary service, my first response is always to call the vet. I’ve seen way too many cases where a veterinarian should have been consulted first, but for whatever reason was not, and by the time they had a vet out the damage was either irreversible or magnified to the point where costly treatments were necessary for recovery. No one has time for that! I understand that having a vet out costs money, but so will the surgery to attempt to alleviate the pain of kissing spine that you’ve been ignoring and allowing to progress for the past three years (I’m not saying that your horse has kissing spine, but it is always a worry when they come up back sore!). Having a licensed veterinary professional look at your horse will help you decide the next direction to go in. He/She can use diagnostics to eliminate possible causes of the back soreness and give you answers as to what you should do next.
If your next step is to seek out an acupuncturist, chiropractor, or saddle fitter, do your research. Look for someone who is not only highly recommended, but licensed in their field as well. Your friends may think Joe-Schmo the chiropractor is great because of his low prices, but lets face it- your friends aren’t all experts in the field, so their recommendation can only go so far. You get what you pay for. Ask your trusted Veterinarian for recommendations.
All of these different Equine Professionals are working together towards the same goal- to keep your horse safe, sound, and happy for you to be able to do with him what ever it is that you do. Keep your equine friend’s well being in the forefront of your mind when deciding which action to make. Your horse will surely thank you for it!