The McTimoney treatment can only take place after permission has been obtained from the horses vet. This is because of a law brought about in 1966 stating that anyone treating animals who is not a qualified veterinary surgeon can only do so with the vets permission. This is to protect the animals welfare.
The McTimoney treatment is named after the late John McTimoney who developed the techniques we use today on animals from his human treatment in the 1960's.
After taking a detailed case history the horse is assessed by both palpation and through gait analysis. The treatment is primarily based along the horses spine but this can affect the whole body. Nerves exit from between each vertabral joint and travel to the organs and muscles through out the body. If there is any amount of interferance to these nerves, which can range from slight irritation to full impingement, the corresponding body part will be affected and therefore cause malfunction. Because of this the treatment can improve overall health as well as alleviate pain from muscle spasm.
When I feel along the horses back I am looking for misalignments. These are bones that are stuck within their natural range of movement. Misalignments usually occur because one of the attached muscles is in spasm. This restricts the amount of movement allowed and is usually associated with pain and/or stiffness.
As discussed on the symptoms page misalignments can be caused by acute or chronic problems. Acute problems such as falls or getting cast happen suddenly where as chronic causes such as poorly fitting tack, inbalanced feet and sharp teeth can cause a build up of tension over time. This is the more common cause of symptoms but as it is a slow process is not always spotted early on.
The severity of symptoms depend to some extent on the pain threshold of the horse. Like people some animals keep going and never complain where as others make their slightest discomfort known. Rearing, bucking and napping are more extreme reactions which usually only come about when more subtle signs have been missed. Stiffness on one rein, finding one canter lead more difficult, reluctance to go forward, a change in behaviour or performance or just being grumpy to groom, girth or tack up can all be more subtle signs of discomfort.
Misalignments are treated by rapid adjustments across specific bony landmarks. The adjustments use speed rather than force and are usually readily accepted by the animals. As well as applying a vibrating energy into the bone the muscle reflex is also stimulated. If a spasmed muscle is made to contract it will then relax and the restricted bone may be released and pain and stiffness relieved. This is a similar principal to stimulating the muscle reflex by someone tapping your knee just below the kneecap and creating a knee jerk response.
Specific after care is given to each animal but normally one or two days off work will be advised to allow for the full benefit of the treatment to be acheived. This is because the treatment does not 'fix' problems but rather creates a stimulus for the body to react to. The body is living tissue and so change takes time, it is not like a car where one bit can be taken out and instantly replaced. Time off after the treatment can allow for changes to take place in an optimal environment. A gradual return to full work is usually possible after about a week depending on the severity of the problem.
Treatment can be used to prevent as well as treat musculoskeletal injuries. As well as providing pain relief it can also be used to help improve performance, increase circulation, aid relaxation, eliminate compensations after injury and prevent musculoskeletal injuries from developing. The frequency of treatment depends on the individual and their work load but 3-6 monthly check ups are usually recommended.