Dr. Kurtz is a Certified Veterinary Equine Medical Manipulation Practitioner (CVEMMP). She received her training and certification through the Integrative Veterinary Medical Institute in Reddick, Florida. The following are commonly asked questions. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment.

What is Equine Veterinary Medical Manipulation (EVMM)? Is it the same as Chiropractic?

Spinal manipulation is very similar to chiropractic adjustments. Both use an exam and manipulations to restore normal function and range of motion of joints. The term “Chiropractic” or “Chiropractor” is reserved for use in humans and must be performed by a Doctor of Chiropractic. An EVMM exam begins with a baseline lameness exam and seeing the horse move in figure-8’s, circles, and backing. Then, the equine spine and limbs are palpated to determine areas of restrictions or decreased range of motion (ROM). Once a restriction is found, a manipulation or thrust is used in the plane of the joint to correctly and safely restore ROM. Specific knowledge of equine anatomy and extensive training is required to correct a restriction, not extreme strength. 

What are restrictions?

A restriction is an area of the spine or joint that is unable to move. Restrictions can be caused by a variety of issues: trauma, change in training, confinement, age, etc. Restrictions can be worsened by poor saddle fit, unbalanced rider, poor hoof balance, or lack of conditioning.

Why do restrictions need to be corrected?

Restrictions cause decreased flexibility, resistance, and pain secondarily to decreased range of motion. A misaligned vertebra can cause issues at the level of the spinal cord and where nerves exit the spinal cord. Since this can be painful, it is not uncommon to see horses have a change in posture or even behavior to compensate for pain. Long-term restrictions can cause additional injury or lameness due to compensation. Changes in nerve function along the spinal cord can result in local atrophy of muscles, missteps/tripping, shortened strides, joint/tendon injury, and poor performance.

How are restrictions corrected?

A restriction is corrected by spinal manipulation via adjustment. Adjusting horses does not require extreme strength, but it does require knowledge of specific anatomy and joint planes. When performed correctly, this will remove the restriction and restore the normal range of motion.

What are signs that my horse has a restriction?

While there are many signs of individual/localized restrictions, restrictions often involve multiple areas due to pain, postural change, or compensatory gate change.

*Change in behavior or attitude while saddling, riding, etc.        *Stiffness

*Change in performance or decreased energy                                 *Shortened stride      

*Girthiness                                                                                           *Focal muscle atrophy

*Refusing jumps or changes in jumping style                                *Difficulty flexing at the poll

*Resistance to collect or lateral bend                                                *Lameness

*Avoiding bit contact                                                                          *Bucking

*Difficulty with one lead or landing on same lead after jumps   *Dragging toes

*Poor muscle development                                                               *Muscle tension lines

If you noticed any of the above signs or any changes in behavior or performance, it may be time to schedule an appointment. During your horse’s spinal manipulation appointment Dr. Kurtz will discuss monitoring techniques and exercise techniques to minimize future restrictions.

Are there circumstances where you would not recommend manipulations?

Horses with a history of trauma, neurologic signs, significant arthritis, or severe pain may not benefit from medical manipulations. In these circumstances, Dr. Kurtz may recommend and perform further diagnostics (i.e. radiographs, ultrasound, etc.) or use different techniques (i.e. acupuncture, laser therapy).

How many appointments will my horse need?

The number of appointments depends on the condition being treated, how long the problems have been present, the horse’s age, and response to treatment. Newer conditions will require fewer sessions. Problems that have been present for a long time may require more sessions or maintenance.

High-level performance horses benefit from routine sessions every 4-6 weeks. This allows Dr. Kurtz to remove restrictions before they cause secondary and compensatory problems. Pre-show adjustments are an excellent method to ensure your horse is in prime showing condition.

What can I expect after my horse is treated with spinal manipulation?

Dr. Kurtz recommends 12 hours without heavy exercise/work after your horse’s first spinal manipulation. Movement is beneficial post adjustment though; turn out, hand-walking, and/or light riding under saddle is recommended.

Dr. Kurtz will discuss if additional medical treatments, including acupuncture, laser, Chinese herbs or pain medications are necessary after treatment.

What if my regular equine vet does not offer Equine Veterinary Medical Manipulation (EVMM)? Do I need to switch all my services to Bayside Veterinary Services? You do not need to be a client of Bayside Veterinary Services to request EVMM for your horse, and you can continue to use your regular veterinarian for your horse’s generalized health care. Whether you come to Bayside Veterinary Services on your own or on a referral basis, complete medical records and recommendations for additional medical treatments will be forwarded to your veterinarian.