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HN Equine Research Challenge: Can Chiropractic Work Decrease Inflammation & Improve Performance In Horses?

Does chiropractic work on horses really have the beneficial effect we think it does, or is it just a placebo effect on owners and rider? This study aims to find out!

We’re proudly introducing the projects participating in our first-ever equine research crowdfunding challenge with Experiment.com! To learn more about why we sponsored this crowdfunding challenge, click here.

Do you have chiropractic work done on your horse? Do you think it works? Do you know it works? Do you want to know?

There are all kind of problems with chiropractic adjustments done on our animals. First, there is very limited scientific evidence of long-term effect of chiropractic adjustments in humans. Second, there is no one protocol that all chiropractors follow (in humans or equines). Some chiropractors adjust the horse from the ground only, others stand on step stools to get above the horse – some people have even seen chiropractors wrestling horses to the ground in order to “adjust” them.  Now add in the extra layer of not actually being able to talk to the individual who received the chiropractic work.

It’s hardly a wonder that equine chiropractic work gets a bad rap.

For all that, equine chiropractic work is still really common. Lots of riders say they can feel a difference in their horse before or after. But maybe we are falling pretty to the placebo effect and seeing the change we wish was happening in our horses. Maybe it’s harmless, and it’s a few hundred dollars spent on something that makes us feel like we’re making our horses feel better. The worst case scenario is that it could actively be hurting our horses – which no horse owner wants to think about.

So what’s stopping us from learning more about chiropractic work?!

In a pilot study, Dr. Mike McQueen studied a 9-year-old quarter horse gelding before, immediately after, and three weeks after chiropractic adjustment. The results were promising. Thermographic imaging suggested that there was less inflammation associated with the adjusted joints after chiropractic adjustment. This change held after three weeks, and subjective observers said that the quarter horse was more comfortable and moving better.

Dr. McQueen and his team intend to expand their study to over 1000 horses to gather more data about the value of equine chiropractic work. To do this, they’ll need more advanced thermographic imaging equipment. Dr. McQueen is crowdfunding this equipment through Experiment and could use your help getting to his study goal!

The bottom line:

  • We still don’t really know how well equine chiropractic works or how long it works for
  • One study of inflammation through thermographic imaging suggests that over at least 3 weeks after an adjustment, inflammation is reduced and performance improves
  • You can support equine chiropractic research by supporting Dr. McQueen’s campaign!

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