Equine chiropractors focus on the relationship between a horse's spinal structure and its nervous system, which integrates the body's innate recuperative power. Horse owners seek their services to treat an animal's pain or joint malfunction through spinal, cranial or extremity adjustments. For those embarking on a career in this relatively new field, requirements to legally practice vary from state to state, but candidates must commit to a significant amount of training.
Become a practicing veterinarian or human chiropractor. This is a prerequisite for admission to an accredited equine chiropractic school. The only exception would be a student who is about to receive a diploma in either of these fields.
Apply to an accredited college for equine chiropractic. Currently, there are three such schools in the United States:
(1) Healing Oasis Wellness Center
(2) Options for Animals
(3) Parker College of Chiropractic Association
Complete a program of approximately 220 hours, divided into five modules, each lasting about four days. Some of the core subjects are anatomy, neurology, biomechanics, pathology, physiology, ethics, rehabilitation and diagnosis. Most courses focus on hands-on activity to give students real experience working with horses. Parker's curriculum emphasises the technical and business aspects, while Healing Oasis and Options for Animals concentrate more on holistic therapy.
Obtain certification to legally practice in the field. Many states now require this. Two main governing boards offer certification - the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) and the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA). Graduates of the Healing Oasis Wellness Center receive certification with their diplomas. Students at the other two qualified schools need to pass tests administered by the AVCA or the IVCA to be officially certified. Once in practice, the doctors are expected to participate in continuing education to keep up with innovations in the field.
Not everyone accepts the validity of the treatment. Veterinarians, to a great extent, are sceptical about how the massive bone structure of a horse can be manipulated to the degree that a skeletal abnormality is "adjusted." Believers counter that many horses show signs of relaxation (e.g., lowered heads, glazed look in their eyes) when the treatment is successful.