Letters: 04/02

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Boarding Facts
Thank you for explaining boarding life from the barn manager’s point of view (see January 2001). So often we read articles that give boarders fuel for their fire, if they expect the Taj Mahal on $350 a month. But this article was fair and accurate.

I run a 14-horse boarding facility and give lessons. I do all the work myself. It’s a juggling act, but I manage. But it gets hard when boarders make too many demands without realizing I do what I can in my limited budget and capacity. Things will get done, but not instantly. They also sometimes forget that a simple “thanks” goes a long way.

-Diann Landau
Virginia

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Carpal Tunnel
Your January 2002 issue asks an interesting question about whether horses get carpal tunnel. Although repetitive motion will sometimes trigger this pain, I believe the motion itself is insufficient to cause problems. In human wrist disorders, poor alignment seems to be a primary cause. Sometimes just re-aligning the arms, back, and neck will alleviate the symptoms. Horses are asked to repeat certain movements, too. Although there may be a variety of factors involved, it’s probable that those developing such disorders are likely to be helped by balanced trimming and shoeing.

-Lisa Simons, Farrier
Colorado

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Herbal Worked
Your November 2001 article on herbal alternatives for horses with lung problems helped a favorite horse of mine. I had trouble getting him to accept the granules my veterinarian prescribed. He’ll eat anything you offer him, but he refused the granules in any way, shape, or form and, believe me, I tried everything. More often than not, I ended up wearing most of his medication. Based on your article, I ordered Earth Lodge Herbal Respiratory Relief Formula and haven’t had a cough since, and absolutely no trouble in his acceptance of it.

-Leslie Van Hulle
Wisconsin

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Measured Response
Your measured response to the question of chiropractic in horses (February 2002) was appreciated. I get upset with the unsubstantiated claims of the many in the field of alternative equine therapeutics (not medicine). What you reported was based on clinical evidence as well as common sense and, although it did not feed into the many claims made for chiropractic, it still left the door open for chiropractic to prove their claims scientifically. Seems fair to me!

-Paul Ferenchak, MD
New York

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Questions 150-Hour Course
I’ve been in the practice of chiropractic for 16 years and during this time have always had a mixed practice of humans, horses and dogs. I am, by the way, certified by the AVCA.

In my ever-so-humble opinion, first of all, anyone who actually believes they are physically moving equine thoracic, lumbar or pelvic structures should go back to equine anatomy lab. For those practitioners who feel that the more they “bang” on a horse’s back the better — shame on you for the damage you’re doing to that horse.

It’s frankly impossible to learn the art of manipulation in a 150-hour course. It certainly has done a disservice to the chiropractic profession as a whole to be so casually represented and utilized.

Equine chiropractic has become a hot political as well as territorial issue, with many states attempting to pass veterinary practice acts that would disallow other than veterinarians from working chiropractically on horses.

I’m not sure which is worse — a chiropractor working on horses who knows little or nothing about horses, or a vet working chiropractically on horses who knows little or nothing about chiropractic.

In the years that I have worked on horses — and I have been a horseman long before a chiropractor (40 yrs.) — I can only state that for many musculoskeletal complaints, chiropractic can improve many horses. It doesn’t help every problem, however, and certainly depends on the quality of work being done.

So I believe that your idea of “fence sitting” is prudent. It’s unfortunate that in many instances the type of work being called “chiropractic” leaves a great deal to be desired.

-Jeanne M. Sharpe
Pennsylvania

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Pro Chiropractors
My equine chiropractor doesn’t use any equipment, just her body, and there’s a tangible difference in my horses’ attitudes and performance after they’ve been manipulated, which mirrors my own experience. I think riders have a responsibility to look for reasons why they meet resistance in their horses, whether it’s the rider, the training or a physical issue. That means riders may have to look beyond the traditional medicine. Pushing through resistance without looking for the cause produces horses who progressively shut down and riders who are frustrated by their inability to advance.

-Mei Lin
British Columbia

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Chiropractic Not For All
I’ve seen a number of horses helped by chiropractic manipulations, including with the Activator, which is the spring-loaded device. However, not all practitioners are successful with their methods, no matter how many diplomas and certifications they receive.??In addition, not all healing modalities are suitable for every horse or person.

-Christine Tindall
Michigan

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Results Noted
I could really relate to your chiropractic questions as I am the original skeptic and spent most of my life calling them “quackopractors.”

When a vet/chiropractor told me she could help my horses, my response wasn’t warm. I just knew that she would push here and poke there and tell me that my problems were solved, here’s the bill. I am here to publicly eat humble pie, as I’ve spent the last seven years seeing results. However, I would never use a chiropractor who is not a veterinarian and I would check to see if they are actually certified.

-Denise Bricker
North Carolina