I had Cody out, tied and ready when Joe Lally, DC, CAC rolled up with his sidekick, an extremely calm and well-behaved dog. Joe has a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and is certified in Animal Chiropractic (the CAC credential). In fact, Dr. Lally worked on humans for fifteen years before dedicating his practice—and his life—to equine patients. I gave the doctor a synopsis of the issue and then Lally spent the better part of an hour giving Cody a full-body massage with a smoothly polished jade stone. “I can’t work on the problem spots if he doesn’t trust me,” Joe explained, “He doesn’t know me; he’s not going to just let me start messing with his head. I have to let him know I’m here to help.”
The bodywork, however, isn’t just for emotional bonding, it’s also part of the treatment. Dr. Lally explained that horses (like humans) have a web of fascia permeating and surrounding the muscles—as well as the bones, organs, nerves, tendons and ligaments. If you have ever encountered resiliently strong, slippery, milky-colored fibers or a sheer sheath when preparing raw chicken meat, you have encountered fascia. Stress and trauma can cause the fascial to tighten into restrictive “bands” and without releasing that physical tension, further treatment would be futile. This is why supple, relaxed horses have a more elastic, springy movement, and why suppling exercises have long been a staple of classical horsemanship. By the end of the massage, Cody, who doesn’t always like his ear area touched (and certainly not by men) had lowered his head in obvious relaxation and was trying to nuzzle Joe as the doctor gently palpated his poll.