Vav Simon
(Mhairi Simon)

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Article in South East Rider,
March 2009


In The Press

Not Just Lameness: chiropractic helps much more


A stallion at stud had suddenly stopped covering. He was certainly interested but he was refusing to mount any mares offered. This had been going on for at least a week. Everything the yard tried had not worked. He was expected to cover four mares a day for a long season, so his refusal put a great deal at stake.

Vav Simon, chiropractor for animals, found he had a severely rotated pelvis. This would have been so painful that it clearly explained why he would not even try to mount the mares. Vav treated him straight away.

His movement was immediately better as he walked down the yard. Vav advised a day’s rest to help him settle, and made further suggestions about preventing any recurrence. Back at work, he did the job without hesitation.

Chiropractic with Animals

Gently manipulating the skeleton by hand, chiropractic was originally developed for humans. It has been widened to work on other mammalian species, with chiropractic for animals now being the post-graduate training. Horses and dogs of all sizes are the main patients.

When bones become misaligned, several things follow. The whole structure may be weakened, and the nerve pathways that emerge in the joints between the vertebrae may be impinged. That makes the nerves malfunction, producing pain, reduced muscle activity or internal organ problems. These misalignments are much smaller than a dislocation, but can have enormous impact – as anyone who has had sciatica knows!

Reproductive Problems

A show pony had suddenly stopped getting pregnant and repeated coverings with a proven stallion were not succeeding. Vav’s assessment found lumbar misalignments that could well have been disrupting her ovary and womb function. Straightened out with one treatment, she ‘took’ well and foaled successfully.

Misalignments have two main causes. The more obvious are the traumas: eg slip, fall, kick, etc. Less obvious – but often more serious – are the repetitive asymmetrical movements: eg circular exercise patterns, foot balance problems or misaligned jockeys. A mare carrying a heavy foal lying to one side may become misaligned in her lumbar region, which could create problems in labour if the nerves to the womb are constricted.

A horse’s shoulder is not an ordinary joint: it is held in a sling of muscle and ligament, there is no bone-to-bone connection. This means that shoulder problems are often much more difficult to treat than other joints, and can be prone to becoming critical.

A Filly on Three Legs

A filly was running around a paddock holding a front leg up. She had impeccable breeding and there had been high hopes for her. The yard had tried absolutely everything to sort it out without success, and there were only two days left before the final decision.

The filly’s mother was anxious and would not stand still. She had barged the baby, who fell, and then continued running around, forcing her to follow all day. This meant the filly’s strained shoulder got no chance to heal, and she had visibly lost condition.

Vav’s assessment found nothing chiropractic wrong with her legs, neck and back. However, she did find a large area of shoulder and neck muscle that was in total spasm. This filly was in such pain from over-using damaged muscles that she would not put the foot to the floor.

This was reassuring – nothing worse was wrong and the soft-tissue work required was viable, which raised some hope for success. Treating these muscles by hand-massaging meant Vav walking sideways beside the limping filly for over an hour as she chased her mother around the muddy paddock! Fully recovered, she went for a record fee at the sales.

Not Just Lameness

Many people tend to call on the chiropractor for lameness problems. But misalignments have many causes and many consequences, and these cases show it is well worth getting an assessment in a wide range of other situations. Regular check-ups can nip problems in the bud, maintaining good health and consistent performance.