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    Articles about Dr. Reuben


    Agua Dulce/Acton Country Journal, Volume XIX, Issue 01.  January 3, 2009

    Backcountry Horsemen of California, Antelope Valley Unit Newsletter, Volume 15, Issue 4.  October 2008

    Canyon Country Magazine.  July 2008

    Palos Verdes Peninsula Horsemans Association DISPATCH, Volume XXI, Issue VII.  July 2007

    from Antelope Valley Lifestyle, September 2008

    Elaine Macdonald

    Back pain is not exclusively a human dilemma. Horses too, can experience neck or back pain.

    Pleasure riding, pulling carriages, and the games that people play with one of man’s best friends, can cause pain in the horse. If left untreated, soreness from back problems can lead to decreased performance, attitude problems, and/or injury.

    Dr. Michael Reuben is a sports chiropractor and Certified Veterinary Chiropractitioner (CVCP). He practiced on human patients for 20 years, concentrating on sports medicine, athletic injuries, training and rehabilitation. For the last four years he has exclusively treated the equine athlete. “Fifteen or so years ago, I remember watching a TV program featuring an equine chiropractor using two rubber mallets to adjust a horse. The idea of adjusting a horse caught my attention, though I had never seen rubber mallets used to adjust anyone,” Reuben said. “Many years later, I began an investigation which led me to Dr. William Inman, a veterinary surgeon who developed a new technique for adjusting animals. Dr. Inman is the originator of Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation, a non-surgical approach to spinal-related lameness issues. He took an Activator (a chiropractic instrument developed to adjust humans) and adapted its use to a horse’s needs. I enrolled in the course teaching this technique and it was life changing for me.”

    Career change

    “I completed this course, which afterwards required continued study of loads of materials and completing treatment of 10 clinical case animals through affiliation with the treating veterinarian, turning in all treatment notes and forms to the IAVC. Then I was eligible for the written examination for certification, which I received in October, 2004. Upon completion of the program and fulfilling all requirements, I could perform as an equine chiropractor under a veterinarian’s affiliation,” Reuben said.    

    Chiropractic College itself is a four year professional school, consisting of over 4500 classroom hours, a year of supervised practice in a clinical setting, and required passage of rigorous national and state board examinations. Matriculation in a chiropractic college requires three to four years of college with concentration in the basic sciences.

    There is a great need for qualified equine chiropractors, certified through either the IAVC (International Association of Veterinary Chiropractitioners) or AVCA (American Veterinary Chiropractic Association). Dr. Reuben noted that out of nearly 900 chiropractors and veterinarians that have completed the IAVC course in California (listed on, only 53 (at last count) have received actual CVCP certification. Fewer still are actively pursuing full-time work in this field. “There are relatively few who are not afraid to work up close and personal with large animals,” he said.


    To professionally work on small animals such as dogs, the chiropractor has to work in a veterinary hospital or clinic. While working in the field on large animals, the chiropractor needs to be affiliated with a licensed veterinarian in the geographical region. The veterinarian need not be physically present, but immediately reachable. Only a licensed chiropractor or appropriately trained veterinarian should adjust horses.

    Recently, Dr. Reuben was hired by Sherman Oaks Veterinary Group to work his magic on dogs. “One of my first patients was a Chihuahua-mix that was struck by a car and, following surgical repair of his injuries, had still been unable to walk for three weeks. Shortly after I did a VOM adjustment on the dog, he regained his ability to walk. This is the satisfaction of working on animals for me.”

    “My first real equine patient was four years ago. At that time I was attempting to fulfill my certification requirements. A young lady in Castaic gave me the rundown on her horse: Bucking problems for three years, problems changing leads, and difficulty going into a canter. I adjusted the horse with what I had learned, and then called the client two days later to ask if she had noticed any improvement. Her response floored me. The horse stopped bucking, and resumed normal ground movements as well. She thanked me and said that he was like a new horse. A few more horses responded the same way, convincing me that this was where I really wanted to take my professional life from now on.”

    “I am retired from human practice now. I realized it was becoming a job and I was growing weary of listening to humans complain. On the other hand, working on horses became a joy and very rewarding. Horses don’t talk. I enjoy the traveling and meeting great people in the horse world. Life became an adventure again.”

    “To me, horses are considered royalty and I am honored to be a healer for such magnificent animals. Best of all, I have compiled a 95% rate of success in the cases I have treated.”

    “I tell my clients that if they don’t see positive results after two treatments, it is time to call back the veterinarian for further evaluation. In reality, there are very few horses I cannot help in cases of suspected lameness issues coming from the back, which most commonly turns out to be the case. I have seen the occasional abused horse, who I could not help because they could not be touched.”

     A problem solver

    Dr. Reuben says that horses are required to carry us on their backs and perform repeated and frequently strenuous activities. Eventually, the accumulation of repeated stress on their backs, particularly the lower neck and hip joints, causes athletic injuries.

    “Repeated or sudden stress on the horse can cause the spinal joints to “lock up” or lose their normal motion patterns, resulting in pain and associated muscle stiffness. These spinal problems will have a domino effect up and down the horse’s back, and eventually end up affecting leg movement, “ he said. “The vast majority of leg and foot problems are actually starting above in the neck, back, or hip joints. This of course does not include direct injuries to the feet or legs. The most effective and non-invasive way to treat problems coming from the back, any back for that matter, is chiropractic treatment. Repeated injections can mask a problem, not solve it. I am considered a problem solver, an extension of the veterinarian’s arsenal.”

    “I adjust a horse using the VOM technique, essentially a precision directed, mechanically assisted adjustment of the vertebrae. I follow this with Myofascial Release, using an instrument called an Arthrostim. This relaxes tightened muscles by releasing spasms, clearing out fibrous adhesions and lactic acid, and improving circulation to the muscle tissues. Pain and muscle soreness are gone from the back, and stress reduced on your horse’s legs and feet.”

     “The horse feels relaxed, balanced, and now is more comfortable with what you ask him to do. The horses really seem to enjoy the treatment too, visibly relaxing and some even falling halfway asleep. The entire treatment takes about 15-20 minutes. This is not only for pain relief in horses, but also an important maintenance procedure to keep your horse healthy and mobile. It is important to understand that the horse is composed of living, ever-changing tissue. As long as you ride your horse, nothing stays permanently “fixed” in their back until they’re…well, gone.”

    Dr. Reuben is available for speaking engagements, holding regular presentations for chapters of the Back Country Horseman’s Association, various ETI groups, and many others. He offers mobile service to your ranch, stable, or residence, and holds clinics for groups. For more information or to make an appointment, call (661) 313-3303 or e-mail Dr. Reuben at Or visit