As equine chiropractic becomes more popular as a way of helping keep horses healthy and happily performing at their best we first we need to ask: “How do I find a competent chiropractor for my horse?”
Chiropractors who work on humans are required to take three to four years of pre-med training after which they spend three more years at an accredited chiropractic college. After graduation they then must pass state and national board exams.
In contrast, there are an alarming amount of “equine chiropractors” who have little to no formal training in chiropractic and as well are not licensed veterinarians. There is no licensing body specifically for equine chiropractors.
To legally practice, different states have different requirements for horse chiropractors. Some require a full course of study at an accredited equine chiropractic school and subsequent certification while in other states, anyone can practice animal chiropractic care. There are actually equine chiropractic schools on the internet advertising accelerated certification courses that are completed in as little as 5 weeks!
Something else to keep in mind is the spine can only do what the muscle allows them to do. If the muscles are holding or pulling a bone into an unnatural position, putting it back into place with chiropractic will only be a temporary fix. If you are only using an equine chiropractor and not doing anything to help the supporting muscles through an exercise and training program, you will most likely need your horse to see the chiropractor indefinitely.
An equine chiropractor should be a licensed veterinarian for a couple of reasons. First, If your equine chiropractor is not also a vet, he or she won’t have the training and experience to be able to look at the whole horse to find the root cause of the problem. For example, more than half of lower back problems in humans are caused by foot issues. Back problems in a horse are also commonly caused by issues with other parts of the body.
Secondly, veterinarians typically use x-ray machines so they can first rule out other physical problems like hairline fractures that may be the root cause of the problem. The overwhelming majority of self-proclaimed equine chiropractors will start adjusting your animal without first taking an x-ray to look for fractures. It is standard practice for a human chiropractor to take x-rays during the preliminary exam. The risk of permanent damage is too high.