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What does VSMT do?

Chiropractic medicine aims to restore and optimize the integration of the body’s nervous system with the musculoskeletal and visceral systems.

Did you know that every signal that comes from the periphery doesn’t just connect to one nerve heading to the brain, but also to nerves that 

  • inhibit signal transmission (this is why brushing your horse is not painful to him)

  • directly go back to the periphery without brain involvement (making reflexes possible)

  • modulate those same reflexes, so that they don’t go overboard

  • influence internal organs such as the heart and intestines as well as blood vessels

All of these functions can be negatively impacted when spinal and peripheral joints are restricted in their movement. Restrictions can originate from bone or from soft tissue pathology, and chiropractic medicine addresses both.

What should I expect when my horse gets VSMT?

  • Initial exams take some time (up to 1.5 hours for performance horse evaluations), as we want to assess all current issues to separate true lameness (e.g. navicular disease or tendon problems) from a VSMT problem. Maintenance treatments take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on a number of factors. 

  • VSMT itself is usually very well tolerated, although some horses can be quite painful and we might cut short the treatment to “leave on a good note”. There is always another time

  • Most horses get very relaxed during and especially after VSMT. After treatment we recommend 10-15 minutes of hand walking, ideally  followed by turn-out, but no riding.

  • Some horses may be a bit sore the day after VSMT. A light ride or some ground work is usually beneficial.


Can a bone really be “out”? 

  • Yes, but if it is it’s a veterinary emergency, not a chiropractic issue! VSMT treats restrictions of movement in joints, NOT “bones out of place”!

How do you adjust an animal as big as a horse???

  • One joint at a time 🙂

What can VSMT do for my horse?

  • It can undo the impact of day-to-day insults to the body from things such as running around a pasture and stepping just the wrong way, falling, standing in a stall for many hours, and being ridden. 

  • It improves coordination and the integration of proprioceptive input (signals that the horse receives about where it is in space) into movement patterns, allowing for faster reactions and thus improved athletic performance.

  • It also supports the treatment of chronic conditions like back and neck pain, sometimes reducing the need for more invasive treatments.

Why do you call it "VSMT" and not "chiropractic"?

VSMT stands for “veterinary spinal manipulation therapy”. In NYS this is the official term for a veterinarian who has undergone training in the chiropractic treatment of animals. We are not veterinary chiropractors - the field of chiropractic medicine is extensive, and we have only had training in a tiny section of it. Similarly, I would have an issue with a human chiropractor calling themselves a “chiropractic veterinarian”, as the same applies for the veterinary field. My DC classmates may have learned about wobbler’s syndrome and EPM in class, but that doesn’t make them a veterinarian. That said, we can learn so much from one another and I am so glad that I have the opportunity to learn with and from some incredibly amazing folks, both DC’s and DVM’s during my course! Thank you all for sharing your wisdom and for your friendship ❤️

Dr. Dorothee completed her VSMT (Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy, a.k.a. "animal chiropractic") certification course with VCLC (Veterinary Chiropractic Learning Center) in Canada in February of 2023, achieving a combined score of 93.25% on her final exam, scoring 98% in the practical portion! She has been putting her new skills to use ever since the beginning of her studies, incorporating what she learned into everyday physical, lameness and pre-purchase exams. She is caring for patients with varied needs, from the occasional “tune-up” or help with acute injury recovery to regular treatments for long-term improvement of wellbeing and athletic performance. She also practices trigger point therapy and is continuing her education in rehabilitation medicine.

Contact our office today to start your horse’s path to better health! 

(315) 250-5938

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