Polo Players Edition

OCT 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 17 infection, conventional western medicine involving drugs and surgery is the best treatment necessary to correct these problems. A veterinary acupuncturist has a doctorate of veterinary medicine (DVM), but other alternative medicine therapies should be utilized under the guidance of your veterinarian to ensure that all holistic treatments are helping, and not harming your horse. "Certified veterinary acupuncturists are always also licensed DVMs and so can utilize the resources of both practices to most effectively diagnose and treat disease, incorporating the most effective regimens of both modalities to treat any problem," Onderdonk said. "I prefer to think of acupuncture as another tool to use alongside other cutting edge treatments." Chiropractic is another alternative medicine therapy used to help correct problems within the performance horse. Chiropractic is a non-invasive technique used on equids that aims to mobilize joints that have been subluxated. It stimulates the equine nervous system and helps resolve musculoskeletal issues induced by biomechanical factors, resulting in a return of the body to a more natural balance. Chiropractors can make adjustments or manipulations with their hands or using a tool, such as an "activator." Dr. Amanda Massey, an avid polo player and an animal chiropractor in Texas through the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA), advocates chiropractic for performance horses and horses that may have experienced a fall or trauma. Chiropractic care aims to balance the body and will not only enhance performance, but can also help your horses' heal after injuries. The successes of human chiropractic are widely documented in human medicine, but are limited to abundant anecdotal evidence for horses, with the scientific research in this area being limited to studies using relatively few horses. Despite limited research on horses, chiropractic has been shown to improve flexibility and vertebral symmetry by allowing normal joint motion and also helps to restore normal pain sensation, increases range of motion and improves altered tissue function and symmetry. "Chiropractic is utilized by athletes all over the world to naturally decrease pain, improve strength and mobility, and improve overall performance and wellness," Massey explained. "Chiropractic can help your horse with proprioceptive deficits or balance in their legs, reduce muscle soreness after strenuous work, improve your polo ponies ability to stop, turn, accelerate, change leads and improve your horse's comfort or mood when tacking up and under saddle." You may be asking yourself how you can tell if your polo horse needs chiropractic care? Chiropractic care should be sought after under the discretion of your veterinarian when your horse does not feel balanced under saddle or if your horse flinches or shows aggression when their withers or back are palpated (or when you are tacking up). If you have ever noticed your horse's head cocking to one side, or if you are having difficulty engaging your horse's hind end to stop or roll back, it may be another sign your horse needs or could benefit from chiropractic care. Massey commonly treats polo ponies with upper neck and shoulder dysfunction caused by pulling back when tied, sustained from hard ride offs while playing or horses that may be incorrectly bitted. She also treats many horses that have subtle hind-end lameness issues that are secondary to back and sacroiliac issues. To get your money's worth, Massey suggests treating your horses after they have gotten somewhat fit. "It is best to utilize chiropractic care for performance purposes once all polo ponies are in work Massey commonly treats polo ponies with upper neck and shoulder dysfunction. (continued on page 59)

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