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    Dressage, The 3 Main Concerns

    Dressage riders are after perfection of motion in their horse. They must perform a series of predetermined movements, the execution of which requires not only rider-horse cooperation, but optimum biomechanical function of all components of the horse's body that contribute to these movements.

    The three main concerns of Dressage as experienced by the rider, and the source of diminishment of this perfection have been described as the following:

    1. The horse's back cannot lift and the horse is therefore unable to drop the rear end and get underneath himself (collection).
    2. Achieving suppleness in the neck and back.
    3. Achieving evenness of gait to both right and left.

    These are all issues that may have obvious causation to a professional that has studied the spine, nervous system, musculoskeletal biomechanics, and kinesiology, and the relationship of each to proper structure and function - say, a chiropractor. However, the traditional medical veterinary approach has in many cases not supplied satisfactory answers or treatment, and these issues continue to be problematic for riders relying solely upon this approach.

    In reference to #1, ability of a horse to properly collect requires proper mobility of all of the lumbar spinal joints, sacroiliac joints, and to some extent the spinal joints of the thoracic (withers to back of the saddle) and cervical (neck) spine.

    I presented this question to Dr. Renee Tucker, DVM, author of the excellent book “Where Does My Horse Hurt”, and who is also trained in equine chiropractic and acupuncture. Dr. Tucker states the following:

    “Most horses can't do #1 and the hocks are blamed (and injected). What's really happening is the lumbar spine can't flex due to chiropractic issues. This results in the hocks getting overused and sore.”

    So essentially, stop blaming the hocks, stop injecting them, have the horse's spinal issues addressed (with chiropractic, of course) and the horse will be able to collect comfortably, effortlessly, and without invasive (and expensive) procedures.

    Now let's take a look at concern #2, which is actually closely related to concern #3, essentially having the same causation and solutions.

    Suppleness means looseness. Not laxity, which implies a state of instability that is usually caused by damage to joint and tendon structures from injury and/or overuse. Scar tissue and adhesions tend to be the body's way of repairing such damage and ultimately results in a loss of proper motion in these structures. Looseness as desired by the Dressage rider is freedom of motion with proper muscle tone and neurological control.

    Overall suppleness and evenness of a horse depends on muscles functioning properly and in tandem with opposing muscle groups, and balance of muscular contraction on both sides of the body. Major muscles that attach to the legs, shoulders and hips start at the back, specifically the spine, and not the other way around. If spinal joints are not moving properly and evenly to both sides, say goodbye to suppleness and evenness.  

    The muscles do not think for themselves and the nervous system must tell them what to do. The horse's nervous system must be functioning as close to 100% as possible with no interference or distraction, which can be caused by stress or imbalances in the spinal joints. The nerve branches from the spinal cord pass through openings between the spinal joints (for protection) and are highly dependent upon proper function and movement of the spinal joints. This is important, as the horse's brain must process rider input so the proper signals can be sent to the muscles and have them respond appropriately. If there is stress and therefore potential tissue damage detected in any of the neurological channels anywhere from the brain to the legs, this creates interference in the “brain to hoof” connection. This in turn results in loss of muscular balance and therefore loss of evenness of gait and loss of overall suppleness.   

    So there you have it Dressage riders, or any of you horseback riders for that matter. Take care of your horse's back and you will have the evenness, suppleness, and horse you desire.

    Equine Sport Performance is dedicated to provide the finest in state of the art procedures to keep your horse's back and neuro-musculoskeletal systems functioning at maximum efficiency, providing maximum benefits to your horse at minimal cost to you.



    EquiPulse, The Star of the Show

    Anyone who has hired Dr. Reuben to work on their horse has noted his 4-part procedure delivered in a particular sequence. The reason for this is that each procedure prepares the structures and tissues to receive the next procedure with maximum effect. The goal and usual result is maximum improvement in a minimum amount of time.

    Every procedure is important but the final procedure is the Grand Finale. This would be the EquiPulse, which is a highly effective application of a Pulsed Electromagnetic Field or PEMF, the most powerful healing technology yet developed for man or beast. PEMF is non-static, unlike therapy with standard magnets or magnetic blankets. PEMF delivers the magnetic field in high-powered pulses, and can penetrate far deeper into the tissues than static magnets, with far greater effect.

    In the world of medicine, physicians have long known that “the body electric” is for real: tiny electrical currents and magnetic fields are constantly firing off inside you. Until recently, we haven't known how to harness these forces for healing. But a handful of scientists and medical innovators have relentlessly pursued this and have been ultimately succeeding, especially now with modern technology enabling production of a sufficiently portable machine that can generate a powerful enough PEMF that can be controlled and therapeutically applied.

    So how does PEMF heal? Nerves, muscles, bones, cartilage, spinal fluids and blood all rely on a symphony of dancing ions to function correctly. Injuries or stress that accumulates to cause tissue inflammation can interrupt this “dance”. PEMFs activate these electrically charged particles in ways that turn off inflammation and turn on cell repair. PEMF instantly expands the diameter of veins and capillaries, which does the following:   


    • More blood can flow to the area being treated, which is critical to accelerating the healing process.
    • Around inflamed areas, vaso-dilation will help dissipate buildup of fluid, thus reducing swelling and inflammation.
    • Vaso-dilation quickly enables many other of the body's healing mechanisms, such as cell growth and repair, lymphatic drainage, oxygen flow, and energy storage.


    Additionally, scarring and trauma to muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and cartilage start to break up. This provides the relief most patients (including horses) experience after one or two treatments on an affected area. No other form of therapy, not laser, not TENS, shockwave, ultrasound or anything else currently available, has the widespread scope of regenerative and relieving effects of PEMF. The EquiPulse is considered the Ferrari of PEMF devices.

    Over the last decade there has been a proliferation of PEMF devices in every discipline of the equine industry, primarily the EquiPulse:

    • Dr. Henry Adair, DVM at the University of Tennessee has integrated the EquiPulse into our country's only Equine Rehabilitation Certification Program for DVMs and RVTs.
    • Dr. Mark Martinelli, DVM, PhD, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine, has integrated the EquiPulse into his practice at Southern California Equine Orthopedics since 2009, with great success.
    • Dr. Chris Newton, DVM of The Rood and Riddle Equine Center in Lexington Kentucky, has used EquiPulse with “stunning results”, along with many other equine therapeutic facilities nationwide.


    Dr. Michael Reuben, D.C., CVCP of Equine Sport Performance in Southern California has integrated the EquiPulse into his equine therapy practice since 2013. He has recorded astounding results, and many happy horses and their humans, which is why at Equine Sport Performance the EquiPulse is the “Star of the Show”.




    Can a Horse's Back Issues Affect Their Internal Organs?



    They can, but this answer must be carefully qualified. Firstly, I always promote the services of Equine Sport Performance as correction and optimization of issues involving the joints, muscles, soft tissues (fascia), and neurological functions of the horse, specifically in relation to the back, neck, hips, shoulders, and legs. 

    Having said all that, now consider the following: A horse has a finite amount of energy at any given time to supply the overall function of the entire body, not only in the musculoskeletal system but all systems of the body. This is in addition to energy expended while carrying a rider and executing the demands of the rider. Any additional stress which draws energy away from normal functions can decrease the efficiency of those functions. When the body is dealing with back issues which involve abnormally tight muscles, loss of full joint motion and inefficient neurological function, the resulting asymmetry and unbalanced movement takes more energy than movement without these issues, especially with a rider aboard. With these issues continuing uncorrected the horse will still keep going, but the horse's body is in a continuous state of damage and repair at the cellular level. Energy is constantly diverted to the areas that are taking abnormal stress and are in this continuous cycle of damage and repair. 

    Does this draw from other systems that can possibly lose efficiency and even break down after a while? To what extent is debatable, but most agree that it certainly can. Suffice to say that a horse that is happily moving with no pain or discomfort in their joints or muscles will also likely have better digestion and elimination, as well as other bodily functions. Just like us.

    There are certainly many external and internal factors which can contribute to the inefficiency and dysfunction of the internal organs of a horse. Neuro-musculoskeletal (i.e., back pain) issues are only one possibility and although they may not be a causative factor, they can certainly be a contributory factor to a horse's overall well-being or lack thereof. In many cases these issues are among the most easily addressed with proper therapeutic intervention, maintenance and most importantly, prevention. Why not at least eliminate this possibility, and insure that this highly important aspect of your horse's health is covered?

    Equine Sport Performance is dedicated to provide the finest in state of the art procedures to keep your horse's neuro-musculoskeletal systems functioning at maximum efficiency, providing maximum benefits to your horse at minimal cost to you. Contact me today. 



    Why You Must Make Back Care Part of Your Horse's Health Routine


    “No hoof, no horse.” This is the mantra that farriers, hoof trimmers, and all manner of hoof care specialists have instilled in the minds of the horseback riding public, and rightfully so. Putting your weight on a horse puts additional burden on the structures of the foot, resulting in altered patterns of growth and wear. Add to this the restriction of movement imposed on most horses by keeping them in stalls, and you now have the necessity of regular outside intervention of hoof care specialists in order to prevent these altered patterns from crippling a horse. In addition, if you aren't regularly taking care of your horse's feet, everybody can see it, so farriers and other hoof care specialists are quite busy taking care of everybody's horses. Wild horses have no need for hoof care, and most horses that have been turned out to pasture with no further attempts by humans to ride them need little if any further hoof care.

    Putting your weight on a horse also puts additional burden on the structures of the horse's spine and spinal joints. This results in altered patterns of stress not only on the spinal joints, but the supporting muscles, tendons and ligaments in the spine. The spine has a wonderful feedback mechanism in the nervous system that is designed to protect the vital nerves and structures of the spine when stress accumulates and is starting to cause damage. Unfortunately, the degenerative changes and loss of function associated with this mechanism aren't visually apparent to the average rider like the feet are. A horse eventually begins to experience pain and discomfort from this accumulation of stress, but many riders interpret the signs as misbehavior or stubbornness. Renee Tucker, DVM in her book “Where Does My Horse Hurt?” states:

    “The best way for a horse to tell you they hurt is by refusing to do something.”

    If ignored, the vital structures will begin to break down. Spinal joints will develop arthritis, tendons in the legs will become inflamed, and overworked muscles will develop a chronic syndrome not unlike fibromyalgia in humans. And no, pain medication does not solve this, only serving to temporarily mask the symptoms. 

    Proper and regular care of a horse's spine and associated structures will prevent this from happening and maintain a horse's maximum health and performance. Equine Sport Performance is dedicated to provide the finest in state of the art procedures to keep your horse's back at maximum comfort with minimal maintenance cost. Contact Dr. Reuben today for more information.

    So remember: 

    No BACK, horse out of WHACK,

    And he ain't worth JACK

    And that's a FACT, Mack!      


    The Ultimate Athlete - The Racehorse 

    The Racehorse. It's horse Drag Racing. But these drag racers go for a full mile around a track. It would be fun to see real drag race machines go for such a distance, but most would probably explode.

    The Racehorse goes this distance without exploding, surprising considering the intense forces generated within this living high performance machine during a race.

    The entire musculoskeletal system of the racehorse is worked violently during a race, the weight-bearing surface of the spine as well as the neck, shoulder and sacroilliac joints all being subjected to tremendous stresses.

    These stresses can easily trigger the built-in protective response of the joints that house the spinal cord and nerve roots. Unlike other joints in the horse's body, these spinal joints cannot simply "give way" if their load capacity is exceeded, for there would be catastrophic injury to vital information-carrying nerve structures. They therefore have a built-in "failsafe mechanism" which creates immediate protection to these joints in the form of muscle guarding or "splinting". In extreme cases this may appear as a muscle spasm, but mostly it occurs as increased levels of muscle tension in a particular area. This muscle tension, while providing protection for the overstressed joint, will unfortunately restrict motion of that joint as well. The horse will be reluctant to use any areas adjacent to this "fixated" joint; for instance -  shoulder motion will appear to be restricted when the lower cervical spine (lower neck) is being protected by muscle guarding or splinting. Hip and rear leg motion will be restricted by splinting in the lumbar spine or sacroiliac joints.

    Once the stressful event is over however, the reflex does not shut itself off. It will simply go dormant until increased demands are once again placed upon the affected spinal joint or joints. The joint motion will once again be restricted and the horse will be uncomfortable performing movements that require freedom of motion in the joint. This will result in less than optimum performance from the horse, and decrease chances of winning. 

    Reversing this reflex pattern is where Dr. Reuben's Joint and Muscle Release Technique comes in. The joint is released to perform normal motion using the powered activator, which provides a precision directed, mechanically assisted movement of the spinal joint. The effect is much like resetting a tripped circuit breaker. Myofascial release is then performed using the Arthrostim which stretches and releases muscle tissue 14 times per second, dispersing lactic acid and other stagnant toxins as well as fibrous adhesions out of the muscles.

    The result is a drag racing machine firing on all cylinders!