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Horse Performance: Does Equine Chiropractic Therapy Help?

Published on: April 7, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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In the competitive world of racehorses and other types of performance horses, every advantage counts. Chiropractic therapy has emerged as a valuable tool for maintaining top-notch equine athletes, ensuring they perform at their best.

As owners of these exceptional animals, providing the highest level of care is crucial. Integrating chiropractic therapy into your horse’s health regimen can yield significant improvements in performance and overall well-being.

This blog post delves into the role of chiropractic therapy in enhancing the performance of horses. We’ll explore the benefits, considerations, and proper implementation of this practice to ensure your equine athletes remain in peak condition.

Understanding Equine Chiropractic Therapy

Equine chiropractic therapy is a specialized branch of chiropractic care that focuses on the unique needs and anatomy of horses. Its origins can be traced back to the early 20th century when chiropractic care for animals began to gain recognition. Since then, it has evolved into a respected and well-established practice within the realm of equine health.

The basic principles of equine chiropractic care center on identifying and addressing misalignments or restrictions in the horse’s musculoskeletal system, known as subluxations. These subluxations can lead to impaired mobility, discomfort, and reduced performance.

For example, a horse may start acting up when saddling and refuse to enter the training gaits, as was recently the case with my own horse. Our farrier suggested that we have a chiropractor evaluate him. After the chiropractor made adjustments, our horse returned to his normal behavior and resumed training without any issues.

While the underlying concepts are similar to those in human chiropractic treatment, equine chiropractic care involves techniques and adjustments tailored to the specific anatomy and biomechanics of horses.

The size, weight, and unique physical demands of these animals require specialized knowledge and skills to effectively address their needs and ensure their safety during treatment. This specialized care can make all the difference in helping racehorses, and performance horses reach their full potential.

Picture of a person performing equine chiropractic care.

Common Equine Issues Addressed by Chiropractic Therapy

Chiropractic therapy can address a range of equine issues, particularly those related to the musculoskeletal system. Musculoskeletal imbalances and injuries, such as subluxations, can lead to compromised performance, pain, and restricted movement. Equine chiropractors are skilled in detecting and correcting these issues, helping horses regain optimal function.

Postural and gait abnormalities are other common issues that can be resolved through chiropractic care. Horses with imbalances or misalignments may exhibit uneven weight distribution, irregular strides, or even lameness. An equine chiropractor can identify and address the root cause of these abnormalities, restoring proper biomechanics and movement.

Lastly, chiropractic therapy can be beneficial in the recovery process following surgery or trauma. By realigning the musculoskeletal system and promoting optimal nervous system function, chiropractic care can aid in reducing pain, inflammation, and overall recovery time, helping the horse return to its peak performance sooner.

Benefits of Chiropractic Therapy for Horses

Chiropractic therapy offers numerous benefits for horses, particularly those involved in racing or other performance disciplines. One of the primary advantages is improved mobility and flexibility. By addressing subluxations and other musculoskeletal imbalances, chiropractic care helps restore a horse’s full range of motion, allowing them to move more freely and comfortably.

In addition to improving mobility, chiropractic therapy can also enhance a horse’s performance and endurance. With proper alignment and balance, a horse can utilize its musculoskeletal system more efficiently, resulting in better stamina and overall performance. This is particularly valuable for performance horses, where even the slightest edge can make a significant difference in competition.

Chiropractic care can also provide relief from pain and discomfort. Many horses experience chronic pain due to misalignments, injuries, or other issues, which can negatively impact their quality of life and performance. Regular chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate this pain, allowing the horse to feel more comfortable and perform at its best.

Finally, chiropractic therapy can play a role in preventing future injuries. By maintaining proper alignment and promoting optimal biomechanics, horses are less likely to experience strain or injury to their muscles, joints, and ligaments. This proactive approach to equine care helps keep racehorses and performance horses in peak condition, ensuring they can continue to excel in their respective disciplines.

vet check

When and How to Seek Chiropractic Care for Horses

Recognizing when to seek chiropractic care for your horse is essential to maximizing the benefits of this therapy. Signs of a potential chiropractic issue may include behavioral changes, reluctance to perform specific movements, sensitivity to touch, or changes in gait and posture.

Observing your horse closely and consulting with your veterinarian or farrier can help identify potential issues that may benefit from chiropractic intervention. Selecting a qualified equine chiropractor is crucial to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the treatment.

Look for a practitioner with appropriate certification and training, as well as experience working with racehorses or performance horses. Seeking recommendations from fellow horse owners, trainers, or veterinarians can be helpful in finding a reputable chiropractor in your area.

It’s also important to integrate chiropractic therapy with other treatments and management practices to provide comprehensive care for your horse. Chiropractic care should complement, not replace, traditional veterinary care and other therapeutic modalities, such as massage, acupuncture, or physical therapy.

Working closely with your veterinarian and other equine health professionals will help create a well-rounded approach to maintaining your horse’s performance and well-being.

horse chiropractic care

Potential Risks and Limitations

While equine chiropractic therapy can offer significant benefits for horses, it’s important to be aware of potential risks and limitations. Recognizing contraindications is crucial to ensuring the safety and well-being of your horse.

Certain conditions, such as acute fractures, infections, or severe neurological disorders, may not be suitable for chiropractic treatment. Consulting with your veterinarian before seeking chiropractic care is essential to determine if it’s an appropriate option for your horse.

Proper care and follow-up are also key to minimizing risks and maximizing the benefits of chiropractic therapy. It’s essential to work with a qualified equine chiropractor who can provide thorough assessments and develop a tailored treatment plan for your horse.

Regular check-ups and adjustments, as recommended by the chiropractor, will help maintain optimal musculoskeletal health and performance. It’s also important to understand the limitations of chiropractic therapy.

While it can be highly effective in addressing many issues related to a horse’s musculoskeletal system, it may not be a complete solution for all conditions or injuries. Chiropractic care should be viewed as a complementary approach, working in tandem with other veterinary treatments and management practices to provide the best possible care for your racehorse or performance horse.

Picture of a horse we own that was returning sore and had good results from chiropractic care.


Equine chiropractic therapy can play a significant role in improving the performance and well-being of racehorses and other performance horses. By addressing musculoskeletal imbalances and promoting optimal biomechanics, this complementary approach can enhance mobility, reduce pain, and prevent future injuries.

It is important to recognize when to seek equine chiropractic care and to choose a qualified equine chiropractor to ensure the best possible results. Integrating chiropractic therapy with other treatments and working closely with your veterinarian and other equine health professionals will create a well-rounded approach to equine care. With the right support, your horse can continue to excel in its respective discipline, performing at its peak and enjoying a higher quality of life.


Can a chiropractor help a lame horse?

A chiropractor may be able to help a lame horse, depending on the cause of the lameness. If the issue is related to a misalignment or musculoskeletal imbalance, chiropractic therapy could improve the horse’s condition. However, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian.

How often should a horse get chiropractic adjustments?

The frequency of chiropractic adjustments for a horse depends on several factors, including the horse’s specific needs, its level of activity, and any ongoing issues it may have. In general, performance horses may benefit from adjustments, possibly every 4 to 6 weeks, to maintain optimal alignment and function.