Osteopathy involves evaluating the horse neurologically, using the autonomic nervous system to tell us what is going on inside the horse. Restrictions in the spine and lower limbs are a roadmap to what is going on internally in the horse. Once the internal restrictions and problems are managed, we can mobilze the external restrictions in the back and limbs to move freely. Mobility is the main concern of an osteopath, both internally and externally. We often find horses who cannot flex or extend at the poll, due to pulling back on the halter, or from falling. Our education in cranial sacral manipulation can aid in treating this problem. A horse who cannot flex or extend at the poll could be compressing some of his cranial nerves and/or blood supply to the head, resulting in behavioral issues. Osteopathy involves treating the “Whole Horse” and not just putting a “bandaid” on the problems. We want to seek out the original cause of the problem and resolve it where it started. Doctor Groves graduated from a 3 year course in Equine Osteopathy from The Vluggen Institute in 2007, and continues to work closely with and teach in the school.
WHAT IS EQUINE OSTEOPATHY?
Osteopathy is based on a theory that diseases are due chiefly to loss of structural integrity that can be restored by manipulation of the parts. The body functions at its best when there is motion in the parts. If the organs or viscera have a problem that is restricting their motion, an area of inflammation will develop around the restriction. The flow of blood through the vessels in the area will be decreased, and a distress signal will be sent over the nerves. This distress signal will be recognized as pain. The pain will send a nerve impulse to the ganglion in the area. The ganglion will forward this impulse to the muscles at the spinal segment closest to the area where the restriction has occurred. The nerve stimulation will cause hyperactivity of the muscles in the area, and the spinal segment will be stressed, causing a restriction of movement in that particular spinal segment. This restriction in the spine can be used as a road map to identify internal problems near it. The internal problem must be corrected before the restriction can be effectively removed from a spinal segment. If the internal problem is not corrected first, the spinal restriction will re-occur. For example, a mare that cannot collect and get her rear end underneath her could have stifle or hock problems. If the problem cannot be found in the joints of the hind leg, an osteopath would check for a restriction in the lumbar vertebrae. This restriction could be caused by inflammation on an ovary. The osteopath would go directly to the source of the problem, the ovary. First the lack of motion and resultant inflammation of the ovary would be corrected. Then the restriction in the lumbar vertebrae would be have motion restored to it by the osteopath. If the restriction in the lumbar vertebrae were resolved without first correcting the underlying problem in the ovary, the body would continue to send distress nerve impulses that would cause hyperactivity and contraction of the muscles of the spine in the area of the ovary. The spinal segment in the lumbar vertebrae would soon be back in restriction. By addressing the body as a whole, the problem can be permanently corrected.
Osteopathy also looks at the whole horse in terms of endocrine and immune function. The autonomic nervous system needs to be in balance for these functions to operate maximally. The horse has a primary respiratory mechanism that can be measured. When this mechanism is asymmetrical, or the amplitude is too high or too low, the osteopath looks at the endocrine system to find the problem. Horses can develop an adrenal burnout; acting tired, depressed, having inflammations of all kinds in their body. These horses have a weakened immune system and seem to catch every illness. The primary respiratory mechanism can be rebalanced, and these horses can be treated and return to health.
Osteopathy will help to prevent sickness by recognizing early signs of disharmony in the body. This modality will increase the level of performance and general well-being of a healthy horse.
Ectuating Recovery of Functions of the Organism Through The Skeleton
Horses that have a difficult to diagnose lameness could have a problem in the spine, sacrum, or hips. This imbalance in the spine of the horse can affect the way his lower legs move. For example, if a horse’s sacrum is not in balance, the pelvis will be affected. The imbalance in the pelvis will affect the hip, the hip will affect the stifle, and the stifle will affect the hock, and so on. An osteopathic evaluation and correction of the imbalances in the horse can therefore correct the lameness. The spine can be affected by the nerve ganglion, which can be affected by the organs of the body. For example, an ulcer will affect the spinal ganglion located near it. The spinal ganglion will affect the vertebrae near it. An osteopath would find thoracic vertebrae 11-13 out of balance if the horse has an ulcer. Osteopathy looks at the horse as a whole, using symptoms such as the imbalance in thoracic vertebrae as a guide to find the underlying ulcer. Osteopathy finds and corrects imbalances in the joints, organs and viscera. Athletic performance is restored or enhanced.
Please call the clinic at (979) 243-4969 for an appointment.
For veterinarians interested in studying osteopathy, Janek Vluggen teaches a three-year course at The Whole Horse Veterinary Clinic in Garwood, Texas. (Click here for the signup form) The course is comprised of 14 four-day sessions held over a three-year period. The mornings are spent in lecture, using power point slides. Afternoons are spent in a hands-on wet lab out in the barn working on horses. A certification in Equine Osteopathy will be awarded to those who complete the three-year course and pass a written and clinical competency exam. Classes are $1350 per four-day session. A discount is available for those paying for the entire course at the first session. Janek received his D.O. from the International Academy of Osteopathy in Gent, Belgium. This school is affiliated with the University of Wales, which is affiliated with Cambridge University in England. Janek has a human practice in Germany, and he also works with a veterinary practice there. Janek carries out research in the field of equine osteopathy at the University of Liege in Belgium. He teaches in Europe at his school, The Vluggen Institute of Equine Osteopathy. (www.vluggeninstitute.com) He has developed a technique for equine osteopathic work that achieves fabulous results. The addition of osteopathy to my toolbox has taken my veterinary work to a whole new level. Osteopaths Janek Vluggen and Pascal Evrard, and veterinarian Dominique Giniaux; have all worked to develop equine osteopathy based on the work of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. Osteopathy views the body as a whole: it takes into account the organs of the body, which can influence the spinal ganglion, and therefore the horse’s entire spine and body systems. Osteopathy evaluates the way in which the organs and fascial tissue could be causing restrictions in the body. When these restrictions are resolved, the motion in the spine or joints is corrected. By resolving the problems in the organs and tissue first, the motion will automatically be restored to the spine and joints. This motion: will not be temporary, as we see in chiropractic. By relieving the pull of the fascia on the organs and tissue, motion in the spine and joints will last for many months or longer, depending on the discipline the horse competes in.