From Endurance to Dressage
I am so fortunate to have such a knowledgeable chiropractor in my area. Not only is he good at his job, but he's a trainer, judge, and all around excellent horseman. When he works on one of my horses, he always talks about the roles that nutrition, training, and riding play in their skeletal and musculature health.
While he gave Izzy a once over, I explained what indicators I had seen. Izzy wanted to carry his haunches to the far right, he couldn't canter on a left lead, and he was suddenly more spooky and tense than usual. And oddly enough, all of this appeared over-night.
While Izzy needed a bit of work here and there, it was the C7, the transverse process of the last neck vertebra, that was causing most of the discomfort. I knew that the C7 was the bottom vertebra, but I had to look up the transverse process part. Don't want you thinking I am a smartypants.
CC explained that when the horses are "out" at the C7, all kinds of things start going wrong. I get that. Just watching him work made me identify all the parts of my own body that protest when asked to reach or stretch or lift.
Every chiropractor works differently, but I appreciate CC's approach. He works slowly and methodically, getting the horse to relax and let go on his own. Rarely does he need to jerk the horse, but he does occasionally need to catch them by surprise. He had to use the surprise method to get that C7 joint to finally settle back into place. After working Izzy's body to the right, he came over to the left side, asking Izzy to bend and flex his neck to the left. When it seemed that Izzy was completely relaxed, CC gave a firm push, rocking Izzy back on his haunches.
Izzy has had CC adjust him three to four times a year for the past three years. Even with all those visits, this was the first time I've seen Izzy get so much relief that he did the tongue thing. He always licks his lips during an adjustment, and he gives snorts and signs, but this was totally different.
His tongue practically fell out of his mouth. He swung it around, flapped it a few times, and let it hang out. And then he did it again. The longer CC worked, the more active Izzy's tongue became. Anyone who is skeptical of the efficacy of chiropractics needs to come and see one of my horses get some body work done. There's no mistaking the relief my horses feel.
Once the C7 was taken care of, CC spent some time stretching Izzy and showing him that he didn't need to brace his body in expectation of discomfort. I love that strategy because that is what our horses do - resist when they anticipate pain. CC also worked the remainder of Izzy's body from his poll to his tail.
While I was dismayed that Izzy had found a new place for me to keep my eye on, I was relieved that his hocks weren't the issue. I asked CC if the misalignment could have been due to our recent work with the counter canter and half pass. He thought maybe, but it was more likely that Izzy just tweaked something during a random moment, and it took a while to show up.
This week is already packed with work commitments combined with shortened daylight hours, so it seems a good time to give Izzy a few rest days. I don't think he'll mind too much. By the way, if you're local and looking for a good equine chiropractor, let me know, and I'll pass on CC's number.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: