Monday, October 13, 2014

Teach Me Tuesday

Due to mobile blogger, I'll keep this short. Bodywork is one of those things that has so many definitions and adherents and looks so different to so many people.

I'm intrigued. What does it look like for you and your horse? Acupuncture? Massage? Chiropractic? Just for your horse? Just for you? Group sessions? On site? Hauling out?

What do people do and why? How does it help you or your horse?

27 comments:

  1. Oh man. I'm vocal on this one. Brace yourselves.

    I think chiro work is a load of crock, for people, and for horses. Chiro's aren't doctors. Most of the time they don't really know how what they are doing effects the whole body or a possible injury. And, they often prey on people bringing them "vague symptoms" that can be addressed by actual treatment.

    That said, I know some people swear that a chiro visit helps. And, I'm sure they sometimes do. They help in a case where muscle development has caused tension and pulling a joint. However, chiro work won't stay unless you solve the muscle issue. (Chiro work can also exacerbate some injuries).

    Because of all of this, I'm a huge proponent of massage. It actually helps loosen the muscle tissue and relieve the tension and stress on the joints. It allows you and your horse to move freer, more pain free, and correctly.

    That said, I'm wicked poor. My horse gets nothing, except my demands that he stay flexible and supple under saddle. Correct work is the best I can do to ensure his muscles stay loose and happy and his joints aren't put under too much stress.

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    1. I think you might be my soulmate.

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  2. Yeah I kind of have to agree with Austen, at least for myself. I went to the chiropractor multiple times a week for years, and it did seem to help. However, last year I started having this problem in my neck and right shoulder blade that the chiro only made worse... turns out I have a protruding disc in my neck (C6-C7) that was only detectable via MRI and that a chiropractor never would've been able to diagnose. I also once had a chiropractor who wanted me to come 3+ times a week... I got out of there really fast!

    I do actually like using the chiropractor for horses, though. Not so much for Tim, because he doesn't seem to get especially tight/out, but Limerick NEEDED it. I had never used an equine chiro before I got him and it took me a few months to figure out that his back issues were causing his major attitude changes and overall pissiness. I think it really just depends on the horse. I'm not going to blow money on having the chiro come out to work on Tim unless I think it makes a huge difference, which it doesn't... In that case, I might have a massage therapist come out every so often since he's 16 and I ask him to do a fair amount of work.

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  3. I've tried acupuncture and it did absolutely nothing for Fiction. However I swear by chiropractor work (contrary to Austen haha). I have personally seen a chiropractor for chronic upper back pain. It was getting so bad that I couldn't straighten my back while riding without immense pain. After a few visits to the chiropractor I was completely pain free and I have been ever since (I haven't been back for over half a year). I also see a noticeable improvement in Fiction after chiropractic work. He has a long, weak back and he benefits from chiropractic work every 3-6 months. He is remarkably more relaxed and fluid in his movement after a visit.

    That being said, I do agree with Austen to some extent. While muscle issues are not always the case of chiropractic issues (actual subluxations can cause a strain in muscles which then translates to other subluxations, so in reality it is all just a vicious cycle), there are several underlying issues that can be temporarily eased by chiropractic work but in reality need a different treatment. If the horse is continuously out in the same place, there is something going on that you need to take a closer look at. I seriously cannot recommend the book Where Does My Horse Hurt? by Renee Tucker enough. She sets up a clear method of determining whether you should call a vet or a chiropractor for an issue. The book is fantastic and gives a lot of examples of situations she had to deal with in horses. I'll hopefully review it soon.

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    1. Want to point out that he maintains a long weak/sensitive back even when in perfectly good health with excellent musculature :)

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  4. After mine was hurt last year and mostly lame for almost 7-8 months, she essentially unlearned how to move correctly and continued to hurt herself even after the original issue was solved. We used 2-3 chiro appointments to help correct the damage so that we could recondition her to use the leg correctly. Do I think it helped? Absolutely! Do I think it would have worked if she had not been in a strict rehab system as well? Not sure. I think it was pairing up of chiro work with correct reconditioning that got my horse back.
    I'm not overly convinced to do it at regular intervals, but think it's a good option if the situation is right.

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  5. I can ditto the above in some regards. I personally think the chiro is helpful to me. But only if I follow up with the exercises he gives me to fix the muscle issue that are usually causing my problems. Sometimes an adjustment is the only thing that can get rid of my headaches.

    For Houston I have done massage and chiro. I am a bigger fan of chiro work as I think it really benefits him but it's not something I plan to spend a fortune on because unless he needs t it doesn't make a huge difference. I can usually tell when he needs an adjustment. Never done acupuncture. I think I would want to try it for me first :)

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  6. this is a super post! love reading everyone's thoughts. auto has had chiro and acupressure, and my trainer/barn employ both to keep the horses happy. having watched auto during his acupressure sessions, i can see he really responds to it. i'm not sure that i can tell a significant difference in his work post-acupressure, but i'm happy to treat him to a session every 6-8 weeks, either way.
    i swear by acupuncture for myself. it is the only treatment that has ever worked on my chronic pinched nerve under my scapula. if i felt like auto needed acupuncture, or my acupressurist recommended it, i wouldn't hesitate to give it a try.
    i'm on the fence about chiro...

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  7. I've used chiro and massage for horses in the past. My previous horse really enjoyed both and I felt like especially combined they made a big difference for him. For Miles I've only used the chiropractor, mostly because I think he would HATE the massage -- he's so grumpy about being groomed.

    I personally like the chiro for horses. I didn't see huge, amazing chances necessarily, but I did see change. Also, I'd prefer to try an adjustment before a medical treatment like injections if there is an issue in the neck/back/hind quarters.

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  8. Tristan gets a massage once a month. I use it as a treatment tool and as a diagnostic. As he worked through his foot issues, it kept on top of soreness through his shoulder and neck from compensating. Now that he's working through Cushings, it helps me keep an eye on his muscle tone and overall health. His massage therapist is a good friend and amazing horsewoman, so we have a long conversation each time she sees him about how he's doing and what his progression has been.

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  9. I think I am the minority here when I have stayed FAR away from all chiro/bodywork voodoo. Perhaps I need to try it and SEE if it actually works but I could not get over the amount of shit people paid for at my old barn and it left with me a sour taste in my mouth. Chiro TWICE a month at like $100/pop...saddle fittings twice a year, massage weekly/monthly...acupuncture...Really?? is this all needed? Or were they all just old and bored and rich and needed to throw their money at something? I never really saw any improvements with any of their horses, so I wasn't about to risk $100 away on mine.
    Glad you brought this up though, looking forward to reading some answers!

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    1. If a horse needs chiro twice a month there is definitely a bigger issue -.-; Or, as you said, they might have just liked throwing their money at things. I am one of those people guilty of saddle fitting twice a year. I thought that was the appropriate thing to do?

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    2. I would do a saddle fitting if your horse has changed the level or intensity of work, since the work our horses do can change their backs and hence the saddle fit. Or if they have been out of work for an injury. Or if you see the signs that your saddle is not fitting any longer (hair rubs, sensitivity, change in behavior under saddle).

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    3. Just a thought, but maybe the lack of changes or improvements in their horses, came from their riding. The horse could be awesome under a different rider even without the body work. How many times have we all seen that happen?

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  10. I've had a chiro/massage treatment done once, on one horse, and by a vet. I didn't see fantastic changes, but by that point he was so messed up I'm not surprised.

    I would actually like to get a bodyworker out to look at Paddy, because he has two huge muscles at the base of his neck (up by his withers) that I've never seen before. Plus, I know he travels with his butt to the right, which makes for all sorts of challenges. If I could gain a little insight about muscling/tight spots and work on stretches and such to help him (much like I do for myself with yoga), I think it would be worth it.

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    1. Samantha Rose, DVM, 210-219-4881, does accu/chiro/applied kinesiology, based in San Antonio.

      She is part of the holistic vet group that my vet, Diane Wagner, belongs to. She is the closest one to you.

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  11. Never had any professional bodywork on my horse, but have researched it a lot (very, very expensive in my area). I give him back massages with the liniment foam about once or twice a week and Hemie enjoys it.

    I saw a chiro following a car accident and to help with my TMJ and it did help, but was months at multiple-per-week sessions. Too expensive and too time consuming to do on a regular basis. I get massage maybe once a year.

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  12. I love all 3 for me and my horse. My chiro has absolutely helped me with back, neck and shoulder pain (from riding, riding injuries and sitting at my computer all day). Chiro has also helped Pongo over the years with his alignment, I can absolutely tell a difference once he's had work done. For acute issues, sometimes multiple rounds are needed to achieve and maintain the alignment, then you can go in longer stretches and just have a tune-up here or there. For massage, I just know Pongo loves it. He chews his lips and relaxes. While we're rehabbing he's getting monthly massages. I'm sure it's just like us, the effects are temporary and as soon as we return to old habits we get locked up again. But a little relief is nice, right? I think with all things, it's about the quality of the practitioner. They're just therapeutic tools to be used in combination with all the other stuff we do to make our horses feel their best (carrot stretches, BOT, hacks, linement, etc).

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  13. I have used chiro to rehab my lower back injury, including a ruptured disc at my L5, plus issues with my SI joint. It took a while, but I am in less pain now then I have been since I was 13.

    I have used chiro and accu for Ashke and it has absolutely helped him rehab the physical issues he was dealing with when I first got him. We go once or twice a year, depending on him.

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  14. I have had massages and like Nicku said above- it depends on who does the work. I have had deep tissue massage that has left me like Jell-o and deep tissue that has left me worse off than before I went in.

    Chiro work for me? I'm not a big fan, but I understand the concept of when things are 'out' it hurts like hell. Usually massage with chiro, followed by strengthening exercises, is what I have found to work best. Massage to relax the muscles and allow the chiro to realign things, then the strengthening work to hold it all where it belongs.

    I am considering getting one out to work on my mare. The lady I use does a lot of different things and uses what works best for that particular horse. It's definitely not a "One Size Fits All" treatment plan.

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  15. No research to SUPPORT either chiro or acupuncture. Plenty of research to show it DOESN'T work. But the placebo effect is strong and the transferred placebo effect is even stronger (there is research to support THAT).

    Massage makes sense. I don't pay for it for myself or my horses. I do, however, think they enjoy a nice curry after a ride, and Mo loves to be rubbed down with a towel.

    Plenty of vets think chiro and acupuncture are great. But I also know vets who aren't up to date on the research on ulcers or EPM, so I don't believe everything just because a vet says it.

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    1. Looks like Dr. Ramey is on your wavelength http://www.doctorramey.com/wouldnt-bother-equine-chiropractic/

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  16. I think it really depends on the horse/person/animal. I've had acupuncture, I've done the massage thing... But the chiropractor gets the win. I've seen acupuncture do wonderful things for dogs, but also piss off a pony real quick. I've had a friend who recently began doing equine massage and infrared/red light therapy which has worked amazingly for Brantley. I say, give it a shot if you get the chance. But there is nothing that works for every horse, like it doesn't work for every person.

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  17. I've done chiro and accupressure with excellent results from both. I blogged a lot about them so no need to repeat here!

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  18. I get massages, both for myself and my horse. He usually gets them once a month and I usually get them when something hurts a lot. My horse also gets chiro treatments once every few months, when I feel like he needs them. I think of it as good maintenance, I guess.

    That said, last year (when I didn't have him) he came back from a lease badly damaged and for god knows what reason they decided to treat it with massage/chiro and not involve a vet at all. The horse was getting 1x/week massage and 2x/month chiro and seeing little difference. Once he got his hocks and stifles done he turned into a totally different horse. I kept on with the massages for him, and the odd chiro, because for him, learning to use his body properly has been a struggle, and he would get sore. It's down to where I get him a massage when I feel like something is a little sore or whatever but he's no longer on the regular rotation!

    For myself, I've also had chiro and acupuncture, and the chiro helped somewhat and the acupuncture did nothing. It depends on the chiro, I think. One that I saw more or less resolved chronic back pain and the others were a waste of money.

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    1. edit to add: the massages make a huge difference for him, and for awhile, the chiro did too, but once we fixed the actual underlying problem, the need for most of it just went away on its own.

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  19. My teacher does bodywork which looks like massage to me. I think the philosophy behind what she does is to show the horse the correct way to use his muscles in the hopes of changing detrimental movement patterns do to habit, conformation, poor training, etc. That makes some sense to me. She does not charge me extra when she spends some time before or during a lesson working on my horse. We are not taking big bucks here.

    However, I met a professional body worker once. After he got confortable working on another person's horse, he told us that he can help horses without even touching them. He physically massages the horse out of obligation because the owners expect it. Oddly, the person who hired him thought he was really cool and loved it when he confessed his powers to us. I would never hire that person and it makes me question the validity of all bodywork and related practices. I would rather spend my horse money on proper dental work, a well-fitting saddle, and training to help my horse feel better.

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