Achieving Full Mobility after Bone Chip Surgery

By Martha Rodgers, VMD, and three-day eventer Buck Davidson

Q: My mare had a bone chip removed from (a joint in) her left front, and our focus has been on healing that area. She actually became short in (how she used) her right shoulder, and it wasn’t until I started getting acupressure done on her that we found out she was bearing weight unevenly because she was compensating so much with the right shoulder. What types of therapies do you think would help relieve the rest of the body when treating one specific injury?

A: Rodgers: I think there are a lot of modalities that can be really helpful. Ideally, your veterinarian and other therapists involved in your horse’s care will all work together. When examining a horse, I’ll say, for instance, “I think there’s immobility here,” but I don’t really treat that—I’m not a chiropractor. A lot of my clients interact with chiropractors and osteopaths and massage therapists. I think all those things can be really important for getting full mobility back. And, like you said, when horses are guarding something or don’t have good mobility in one front limb, they might suddenly overload another. If you stand in front of them and really look at them through the chest, a lot of horses are not even in the chest, always bearing more weight on one front limb versus the other. So I think all those bodywork modalities can be really helpful.

Davidson: Also think about the way you ride the horse (if he’s sound enough for it). If you’re in a place with hills, use the hills to go up and down. Going downhill is actually useful for strengthening both (of) the shoulders.