Chris has completed a postgraduate diploma in Animal Osteopathy and has been treating animals for over 10 years.
The treatment process is the same for animals as humans, apart from it happening in a field or stable and the need to see the horse in walk and trot. A horse normally doesn’t need to be tacked up or ridden.
I mainly uses a highly developed sense of palpation (touch) to diagnose and treat the problem. I use a combination of techniques but enjoy the gentle cranial approach as it is very effective and horses find it relaxing.
Please have your horse ready for treatment with a head collar on and either in its stable/stall or paddock, this way there will be more time for treatment.
What happens at the first visit?
During the first visit, you will be asked the known history of the animal including the type of work they perform, medical history, and whether the vet, farrier or another therapist has seen the horse recently.
Observation is done on a lead rope in walk or trot if possible. Observing the horse tacked up or on the lunge is not normally required. A full physical examination is then completed involving a structural assessment of each limb and the spinal movements from head to tail. A deeper cranial assessment is carried out depending on each case. The findings are then discussed with the owner or handler and a treatment plan is laid out.
Treatment is carried out on the initial visit including any necessary changes to the management of the animal.
How many treatments will I need?
After the initial assessment, I will be able to estimate the number of treatments needed. Generally, the number needed is proportional to how long the problem has been present. It also depends on whether the situation is managed only, or if the plan is to resolve the issue for the long term.
Horses do not need as much intervention as us and treatments are spaced out much further apart from 2 weeks to a month depending on the individual case. Horses in competition can benefit from regular treatment to maintain health and performance.
Do I need to be present when you treat my horse?
The owner or handler needs to be present for the initial assessment for the history of the animal. For subsequent treatments just someone to hold the lead rope is necessary.
How much does a consultation cost?
The assessment and treatment cost for horses in the Hawkes Bay area is $120. If you are outside of Hawkes Bay, give me a call on 021 0811 6378 to find out if and when he will be in your area. There may be travelling costs involved.
Chris, can you treat the rider as well as the horse?
I am happy to treat the rider as well as the horse. However, I’ll need to know in advance, to ensure I have allocated enough time and to bring a portable treatment table. I generally do not need the person to undress to their underwear for treatment, so it can be carried out anywhere the person is willing to lie on the table.
Treating both rider and horse is not always necessary and an initial assessment of both can be useful to save time and money if only one needs treatment.
What do you treat?
As an osteopath I don’t treat conditions I treat the animal. Generally, I am the last resort after the farrier, vet, dentist and saddler have been called out. This is not necessary although it can be useful to know if these other options have been ruled out. Problems which can be treated by osteopathy are unevenness, head shaking, crib biting, change in
temperament, unwillingness to jump, lameness, loss of condition, cold back, or girthness.
Does clicking my horse hurt it?
No. High velocity thrust techniques are in fact very fast gentle movements that the animal may find a shock at first, but I can easily demonstrate that after such an adjustment to the neck, the horse will always let me move it back into the same position. If it was painful, the horse would not allow me to do this.
What equipment do I use?
I only use my hands. I may discuss exercise, nutrition, or the use of heat or cold. I may also feel the problem is best seen by another professional like a saddler, farrier, vet or homeopath.
Does the animal need to be sedated?
No sedation is not necessary for treatment.
What happens after the first treatment?
Normally I ask the horse to be turned out and rested for a few days. This is to allow the changes made during treatment to take effect. Horses don’t usually worsen after treatment, but it can take time for the changes to become apparent.
After the initial treatment depending on the condition presented, most horses can remain in work.
What other animals do I treat?
I’ve enjoyed treating many dogs either in work, needing a tune up or are getting on a bit. I’ve also seen cats, sheep and cows. I am happy to help reduce pain in any animal.
As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.
William Garner Sutherland DO.