BEACH LAKE, PA — Harry the horse is seeing a chiropractor.
At first his owner, Holly Johannes of Beach Lake, didn’t know what was wrong. Harry’s a show horse, but last year he stopped cooperating in the show ring. The judges told Johannes that Harry was probably burned out, tired of competing, that it might be the end of his show days.
A checkup with the vet showed that Harry had Lyme disease, and so he was treated with antibiotics. And he did improve, but Johannes could tell there was still something wrong. She knew of a chiropractor who was trained to treat animals, and so the arrangements were made.
When David Lorenzetti arrived for his first visit, Harry was walking like he was in pain. His gait was a mess. He was taking baby steps with his hind legs. Lorenzetti started by evaluating the horse, looking at his gait, how his joints moved and the tension in his muscles.
“I did some tight turns with him to see if he was moving right. Then I also looked at his stride length, where he was placing his feet and how they were hitting the ground. If these things are off, then that can indicate a problem in the joints or muscles.” Once Lorenzetti determined that Harry’s pelvis was out of line he did a chiropractic adjustment.
”You try to get everything working mechanically with the muscles and the joints, but the main thing you’re trying to do is to get the pressure off the nerves and balance the nervous system,” Lorenzetti explained. “You could tell that Harry had some pain.
“Sometimes it’s just their reluctance to do something that’s a sign that there might be pain. Maybe they don’t want to move in a certain direction because it hurts. So if you’re riding that animal and they can’t do that and you’re asking them to do that, then they’re going to hesitate either because it hurts or because they simply can’t do it.”
By Lorenzetti’s second visit Harry had improved, but the assessment showed that the horse still had issues. “I was trying to see how far he would go with his head, and I wanted to see how far he could lift his legs,” the doctor explained.
Seeing a chiropractor work on an animal, such a big animal, is something to behold. To work on Harry’s spine, Lorenzetti climbed up on an oversized, light weight foam block, and then he worked along the horse’s spine. He worked all around Harry standing on the ground, too, before he gave the horse a big shove on his pelvis. After each small adjustment, he gave Harry a treat from a stash he had in his pocket. “I want the horse to know that when I push hard on him like that, it’s a good thing,” he said.
From a spectator’s viewpoint there was one very impressive moment seen near the end of the treatment session. During the initial assessment, Harry had been unwilling or unable to raise his hind left leg very far off the ground when Lorenzetti tried to lift it and pull it off to the side. (Harry had exhibited no such problem on his other side of the body with his right hind leg.) By the end of the treatment, however, he was both willing and able to raise the left leg just as high. He received a treat for that, and everybody was happy with his improvement. A third treatment was scheduled.
Lorenzetti, a practicing chiropractor (on humans), received his training on animals at Parker College, where veterinarians come to learn chiropractic techniques for animals and chiropractors learn animal anatomy and animal adjustment techniques. After many classes and exams, Lorenzetti received his certification from the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). That was in 2009. In all of Northeast Pennsylvania where he works, there are just two certified animal chiropractic practitioners. To find a certified animal chiropractor, visit www.avcadoctors.com/certified_member_doctors/unitedstates2.htm .
David Lorenzetti is the owner and single proprietor of the Chiropractic Center of Natural Health Care, P.C. His office is in Eynon/Sturges, PA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .