I have had a lot of horses come into the barn and have received many telephone calls related to horses that buck. There are many reasons that a horse will buck. It may not be a broke horse, or the freshness may not have been taken off of it before it was ridden. There may also be medical or saddle issues. Medical and saddle issues can be one and the same.
For a long time, I was training horses and looking for reasons for bucking and trying to find solutions. Sometimes, what I thought was a training issue turned out to be a medical issue and the horse was in pain. Some horses, just like people, can handle pain and their threshold of pain is much higher than other horses. Through continuing to seek answers, I started utilizing chiropractic care for horses. But honestly, it didn’t come about until I started having chiropractic treatments myself. It is interesting how we find things in one part of our lives that can translate into other parts of our lives. My back had been bothering me for a long time but I grew up in the old school that you tough it out. Once I started going to a chiropractor and started to get relief for my own back problem, I started looking at the horses in a different light. Sometimes we look at horses as being different from us because they are animals, and in many ways they are different. But, if you think about it, they are flesh and blood, they do have a mechanical structure. Their bones can be out of alignment and that can cause discomfort.
When a horse comes into training now, we evaluate all possible health issues. I have a chiropractor that comes in once a month and we check out the alignment of any new horse or horse that is having issues. I have had horses here at the ranch that had difficulty picking up a lead because of bones being out of alignment and causing discomfort. I have found that chiropractic care is very necessary. This is probably true more so of horses that are stalled or kept in a small paddock where they can cast themselves and get hung up on the sides. Horses in pasture can have chiropractic problems but they are less likely to need adjustment. Usually horses can adjust themselves if they are in pasture. They can roll completely over, going back and forth, and a lot of times they adjust themselves. I have had horses come in that were out of alignment, especially in the axis area (the top of the poll) and through adjustment, they were freed up and then able to relax and move properly. Chiropractic issues can cause discomfort and if you are having issues with your horse you may want to have a chiropractor check him out. When people come to me that is usually the first option I suggest.
One of the other things we do here at the barn is have the dentist look at the horses. There are a lot of trainers even today who do not use or believe in the dental care of horses. Generally, horses out in the wild in the right setting can maintain their teeth. For horses cared for humans and kept in pens, stalls and pastures, eating soft foods and grains, it is very important that their teeth be maintained. Dental care is part of the integrity of care. This is especially true for horses under age three and I recommend seeing the dentist every six months because their teeth are changing so much. For others, I suggest they be seen at least once a year. You usually do not have to pay an outrageous amount. There are people who do specialize in horse dentistry. When a new horse comes into the barn that has had his teeth checked by I veterinarian, I have the dentist evaluate the horse. This is not because I think the vet did a poor job, but I need to know for myself that the horse doesn’t have problems.
When the horse dentist comes out, there is always a vet on hand to administer the shots and put a spectrum in the mouth and check to see that the horse is closing and chewing properly. A horse chews from side to side and it is important to know that they are not locking up or that there are no other dental problems causing discomfort. In training horses, I have found that dental problems can be a huge factor. Dental problems affect behaviors such as throwing the head, not yielding properly, problems with lateral and vertical flexion and not being able to come through. Every time a new horse comes in, young or old, we always have the dentist look at the horse and make sure it is fine. Over 90 percent of the time something needs to be done to the teeth. As general maintenance for your horse, it is always good to have dental work done once a year and a chiropractor come out and look at your horse from time to time.