What is chiropractic? Does my horse need chiropractic?

Equine chiropractic is rapidly emerging, especially on the continent with sport horse vets.  Many veterinary surgeons frustrated with vague/low grade lameness with no specific localised area of pain/swelling or displaying poor performance with no cause are turning to chiropractic as another tool of diagnostics.  As an experienced equine vet I too was faced with this issue at least a few times a week.  Chiropractic allows the practitioner to use highly practiced palpation skills to diagnose sub-clinical (no heat pain or swelling) areas in the skeleton where joints are not moving correctly through their full range of motion.  (Think of a rusty door hinge).  However in a horse subtle ‘stiffer joints’ have a large impact on the overall biomechanics.  The way the horse uses itself to perform dressage movements or jump requires more effort and compensations develop in other areas of the spine.  So not only will the horse be not performing as well as it could, but also eventually putting strains on joints and soft tissues causing further injury.