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It Takes a Team

I'm excited to share this case study with everyone. The excitement mainly comes from the fact of how well the horse, Buster, came out in the end. In the beginning of September, I wasn't sure what the outcome would be. I couldn't be more pleased with the results.

In August, Buster was diagnosed with anaplasmosis. This is a tick born illness that was quite rampant this year. He was treated with IV antibiotics and seemed to be doing well afterwards. About a week after his treatment, he had swelling down both sides of his back. The vet that treated him happened to be out for another horse and recommended a massage. Due to prior commitments, I couldn't get to the massage until a few days later. The swelling was pretty much gone, but he had a noticeable hip hike on his right side. You can see in the photo his tuber sacrale is hiked up.

Now we aren't a hundred percent sure how he did this. We're assuming either a slip that caused an over extension or possibly a fall.

We had the vet come out who also does chiropractic work. I had done two massages at this point and than she did her first adjustment. The other interesting part in this is that he lost his entire topline. I have never in 35 years of working with horses seen a horse lose their topline overnight, but he did.

This could be from not using himself properly during his injury. Remember that a nice topline should consist of muscle, not fat. I will also mention that this horse does live outside 24/7 so his movement was never limited as far as being in a stall.

Here is his topline and you can see the hike in his tuber sacrale. Now this horse is a stocky quarter horse. His topline has never been an issue. This is why when his owner and I saw him looking like this we were shocked.

After the initial chiro adjustment and two massages, I did weekly massages along with magnawave. The vet returned two weeks later and did another adjustment. At this point, we were given the ok to start doing more with him. We started inhand groundwork to re-strengthen him and build his topline. His owner is very dedicated and came out daily to do the exercises. We started slow and used a variety of things to help him gain his muscle back. Ace wraps, sure foot pads, and eventually ground poles were a part of his routine. We added in specific in-hand exercises to help him engage his core and use his hindend. Again all of these were done slowly.

You can use the ace wraps in a variety of ways. They add awareness to the nervous system and aid in proprioception. There are a variety of sure foots pads. I chose to use the hard pad on his left side and the medium pad on the right side. The medium pad is softer and my thought was that it would allow the right side to "drop" down. The sure foot pads also give the nervous system feedback. The "drop" down that I am referring to is not mechanical, but rather the nervous system allowing the drop.

The vet came out for a third adjustment 4 weeks later and was so pleased with his progress that she said his adjustments could be as needed and cleared him for light riding. We will be beginning the riding process soon. This will start with inhand work in the saddle and then moving to a rider.

The nervous system dictates what happens in the body. The nervous system talks to the muscles. Muscles move bone. If muscles are constricted or tight, they will hold the bones in place. This is why it is important to incorporate massage/maganwave into chiropractic work. A massage can be indicated before and/or after depending on the situation and the horse. After an adjustment, the muscles can slowly pull the bones back out of alignment. This is why massage and magnawave compliment each other with chiropractic work. This case was perfect to do massage and magnawave before and after the adjustments.

Buster's owner also had been doing inhand work to promote a healthy weight bearing posture long before this occurred. I believe this is another factor in why he came out of this so well.

It takes a team. The chiropractor, myself, and the owner all helped in getting Buster back to a healthy body. I love what I do and the more I learn, the more I know how resilient the body can be. This is only possible if we give the body direction to allow it to heal. We cannot force, but instead open a doorway. When we do this, we then support the horse as he progresses in his rehab.

If you are interested in help with your own horse, please reach out to Carrie Dunlop at 920-604-3045 or email

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