Horses in Eventing
Eventing as a sport will expose the horse to a range of different stresses related to the varied elements that make up the discipline. Dressage, roads and tracks, steeplechase, showjumping and cross county, are expected to be covered, depending on whether the horse is competing in one day, two day or three day events.
In the dressage section, many horses will develop tight muscles in the upper neck and poll, caused by the head position being held for long periods of schooling. This in turn will transfer along the underside neck muscles to the shoulders where the horse will begin to display stiffness and inability to show full extension of the forelegs on movement. These problems are compounded by the fact that many dressage horses are not encouraged to perform enough work "long and low" to stretch through the topline muscles before bringing them into their collected outline.
The corners around the dressage arena can be very tight for the larger horses, particularly coming down the centre line, so will encourage stiffness to develop in the neck and shoulders and, also behind the saddle from having to balance their own weight with the rider around corners. These musculoskeletal stresses can be helped by McTimoney chiropractic being used on a regular basis, which will allow the horse to work to his peak performance.
The roads and tracks section involves trotting hard along roadways, to cover a given area in an allocated time. It is therefore necessary to train on roads to build up the strength and stamina of the horse, but this will have obvious stresses on the tendons and ligaments of the horses limbs.
The steeplechase, only included in three day events, involves jumping hurdles which are flexible on impact from the horse's limbs if not fully cleared.
The showjumping and cross-country sections concentrate on showing the horse's jumping ability under the ultimate physical stresses. By having to keep to a set time in which to complete the course of jumps, the rider is under pressure to push the horse to achieve this, with sometimes severe consequences to the horse.
At such speeds, in both showjumping and cross-country, the horse is more likely to slip on mud while approaching the jump and, tight cornering around the course can cause twisting of the pelvic bone with subsequent lumbar tension and possible sacroiliac strain resulting.
Horses falling over solid cross-country fences, will be open to the most severe consequences, especially if they fall onto their head and neck, which will lead to twisting of the poll and cervical vertebrae of the neck. The horse may land heavily enough to actually cause a fracture to the neck vertebrae. Similarly, in a roll fall or falling over backwards, the pelvis and back region can be misaligned due to the impact, or even fractured. By becoming straddled across a solid fence the horse can incur stifle injuries, or suffer knocks to the tuber coxae, which are the bony prominences, that make up the hip bones on either side of the pelvis.
Chiropractic treatment can be helpful to varying degrees with some of these injuries, and after a severe fall a vet should always be called to check the horse before a chiropractor is used. A chiropractic check would be recommended at the beginning and the end of the Eventing season, with additional treatments in the event of falls or other accidents while competing.