work with animals encompasses techniques that I have learned from
training as an Osteopath, but also courses undertaken in other
manual therapies, i.e, McTimoney-Corley Spinal Therapy, Massage
Therapy, Equine Touch and Canine Hydrotherapy - course
animals suffer from back and musculoskeletal problems, like people
do. For instance, although we ride horses and they are capable
of supporting our bodyweight, they weren't designed to be ridden.
As a result of domestication they have many unnatural external
influences to deal with. Examples that can lead to problems are
- an unbalanced rider, ill-fitting saddlery, injury through trauma,
stress and over-exertion in competition, digestive upset, joint
problems, bad shoeing and dentistry. The wearing of head collars
can often cause neck injuries, especially if the head collar doesn't
break (nylon) in a panic situation.
more commonly affected by musculoskeletal problems are performance
dogs taking part in agility tests, and/or racing or country sports.
Neck problems often occur as a result of collars becoming caught
or through intense pulling on the lead. If your dog is over-weight
and unfit, he is also more likely to suffer from back problems,
as his lack of muscle tone and skeletal frame will have the extra
burden of weight to carry. Older dogs commonly suffer from arthritis
leading to gait abnormalities and eventually a bad back.
characteristics of musculoskeletal problems in animals are provided
fast and flat over fences, or uncharacteristically starting
to work on the bit, or on a circle and/or hollowing the
or inability to strike off on the correct leading leg
impulsion from behind, sometimes dragging the toes.
change in behaviour e.g., bucking, rearing, kicking or
reluctance or sensitivity to being saddled/groomed and
not standing still whilst being mounted.
signs of depression and a general overall reduction in
sided stiffness/tail carried to one side.
stride or rhythm.
for Horse and Rider Leaflet
most owners tend to contact me when their animal has a problem,
I would like to stress that Osteopathy is a very good preventative
treatment if carried out on a regular basis. Therefore, I recommend
that your horse's back is checked at least twice yearly to prevent
build up of any muscle tension/soreness. Horses and dogs involved
in competition may require more regular sessions.
will be asked concerning your animal's state of health, any
previous medical treatment, any concerns you have and what type
of exercise and diet they receive.
horse/dog will be examined in a similar way to people, through
observation, movement and touch to identify any areas of restriction,
weakness, tightness or sensitivity.
may occasionally be assessed whilst ridden and it is also useful
if the saddle is available to check for any possible problems.
an assessment is made, any problem areas will be discussed prior
treatment advice is usually given in the form of useful loosening
or strengthening exercises. It is recommended that your animal
be rested for a couple of days, and then gradually brought back
into work. Horses can still be turned out, and dogs walked in
a controlled environment.