According to the physical laws of gravity, the biomechanics of living beings result from touching base with the earth. Any imbalance in the podiatry system of equine patients in stance or movement will and does affect their neuro-muscular system and, subsequently, their body as a whole. This is a plain and simple truth. Observing the postural stance of a horse or evaluating gait analysis, a lot of compensatory changes can be noted in nearly every horse. Depending on who you ask, a veterinarian might tell you it could be a tendon issue or a joint problem and will decide to dig deeper into the specific area with further diagnostics, treating the patient according to radiographic or ultrasound findings and demanding rest. A manual therapist might suspect it is a back problem, and adjusting the spine will help the patient. The trainer might see problems f.e. in engagement, and will suggest a specific training plan. An equine dentist knows that dental imbalances will affect the stomatognathic system, and decent dental work will benefit the horse. The saddle fitter sees a hollow back and will suggest changing tack. And a farrier might see some deviations from normal angles below the fetlock and starts changing biomechanics by applying a scheme of corrective shoeing, scheduling the next visit about two months later….
“If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.”
If you find yourself among that list above or not (it could be longer, I know 😊), or if you are the one to decide whom to call when your horse is ADR – you are doing great! You give all your knowledge and expertise in helping the horse. Still, if we don´t address the underlying issue - very individually in every patient - the biomechanical compensation patterns might get better only for a short time. This is what I call fixing some fuses but missing to switch on the main fuse.
I am not a farrier. I am a vet specializing in manual therapies like chiropractic. And believe me, I hate it when I miss finding the main fuse. This is when I have to step back from familiar details and look at the big picture again. Recognizing the underlying issue is the first step. To my own dismay, I only realized years and years after starting my career what that simple truth mentioned above: “Any imbalance in the podiatry system of equine patients in stance or movement will and does affect their neuro-muscular system and subsequently their body as a whole” really means. It took a long time to sink into my stubborn brain because I was not open to explanations about equine podiatry; I needed an experience. And what an enlightening experience I got from Darrall Clifford!
I hope this book, Equine Biomechanical Medicine will bring you forward in realizing the need of which kind of specific professional work the individual patient reveals and the need to either become that professional or create interprofessional relationships with experts in their field. And if, like in so many equine patients, the main switch is equine orthopaedic imbalance, I hope the knowledge in this book will enable you to recognize it and become an expert in explaining or applying truly individual treatment strategies.
For the horses.
Dr Ines Wecker (DVM)
Director of the BackBone-Academy for Veterinary Chiropractic and Healing Arts Germany