Guest column: Equine chiropractic can restore horses’ health |

Guest column: Equine chiropractic can restore horses’ health

Dr. Oneal Peters

On a warm Sunday afternoon last month, a group of horse lovers, documentary fans and curious folks gathered at the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale to watch the film “Life Adjusted,” a one-hour film about equine chiropractic, life lessons and the beauty of the bond a human and animal can share.

The focus of the film is the work of Dr. Jay Komarek, a chiropractor from Boulder, who spends his days mostly working on hoofed patients. For me, it was my second opportunity to watch, and as I sat in the audience, it occurred to me just how important this film is.

Medicine has become exclusive in our modern world. We are so fortunate in so many ways to have the advancements, but with these we’ve forgotten how to be healers. We’ve are often blind when it comes to looking at the body as whole, an intricate system that must be nurtured for health. As doctors, we’ve begun to ignore the body’s innate ability to be healthy, and as patients, we’ve forgotten that health is obtained by more than taking medicine. So what does equine chiropractic have to do with this? Well, everything.

Chiropractic was born long ago, with documentation of chiropractic adjustments being performed in Greece in centuries ago. Countless records have been found since, but in the late 1800s, a man named D.D. Palmer began a true study of this form of medicine, founding the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, in 1904.

Chiropractic care has grown and matured since, and today there are numerous chiropractic schools in the United States alone. Animal chiropractic has an unknown birthdate, but likely has been around for much longer than we know. The first official school of animal chiropractic was founded in 1989 and is still one of the leading programs.

Chiropractic care focuses on allowing the innate ability of the body to function at its most optimal level. A chiropractor’s goal is to free areas of the body that have become stuck, something called a vertebral subluxation complex (VSC). These VSCs can occur between any two joints, either in the spine or in the limbs. When a joint becomes stuck, the innate ability of the body to take care of itself becomes compromised as the flow of blood, lymph and joint fluid becomes hindered like water flowing through a clogged pipe. When motion is restored to the joint and the VSC is corrected, what was stuck is liberated, and the innate function is released.

All animals can become stuck. Day-to-day life, injuries and chronic behaviors cause VSCs to occur. In horses, VSCs can occur anywhere, but commonly occur in the lower back and neck due to their job. Horses perform incredible feats for us, and many do so even when they are in pain. When horses are adjusted, we not only allow their innate ability to shine, but we can enhance their performance and comfort.

Horses are a perfect model for chiropractic care because horses do not exhibit the placebo effect, a point eloquently demonstrated by Dr. Komarek in “Life Adjusted.” Animals are an amazing model of how well something works, or doesn’t … and for many animals, chiropractic care brings immediate relief and maintains health.

Chiropractic should never replace other forms of medical care, but rather be used as another tool to ensure that we are giving our horses the best medical care possible.

Healing is a forgotten form of medicine, and an art that is so often ignored. Healing in today’s age may look very different to healing in the past, but it is certainly possible, and as easy as restoring what is already present.

Oneal Peters is a veterinarian who practices from Aspen to Rifle with All Pets Mobile Vet and also Valley Vet Hospital in Rifle. She works on all species of animals and provides routine veterinary care as well as chiropractic, acupuncture and cold laser. Email her at

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