Its incredible how many horses suffer from subluxations (if your unfamiliar with this condition its worth reading this first.)
Just because something is normal in everyday life, does not mean that it is right. Subluxations are a damaging, painful and dangerous condition. But you don't need a vet out to diagnose whether this is the case or not - you can do it yourself.
It only takes a few minutes to learn, and a few minutes to apply - but this tool will give you the ability to identify if your horse is in pain, and get it sorted before it creates a problem.
Subluxated Rib Test
So where will you be looking to find out whether your horse is suffering from a subluxated rib? Because the scapular (shoulder blade) covers a number of the ribs you can only test the ribs attached to the spinal column after this point.
This means you'll test ribs from T8 through to T18, or from behind the shoulder blade to the flank. As shown in the pictures below.
Location T8-T18 skeletal
Location T8 - T18 for your test
1) First, your going to want to find the 'head' of the rib. You'll find these along the rib ledge found beneath the spinal process.
Hold your hand out with fingers bent.
2) Now place this hand somewhere along the midline of your horses back. You'll want to push firmly (but not too hard in the case of skinny horses) begin to slide down towards the barrel of the body. Soon enough you will find the rib ledge your looking for.
If you didn't find it return to the midline point and push a bit harder.
You'll know when you've come to the end of the ledge - because if you go any further your hands will slide down on the ribs themselves.
3) This ledge you have found runs the length of the back, continuing from the shoulderblade to the flank - this will be your area of focus. I've fluffed it up along here to make it easier for you to see, and gives you an idea of the approximate area you will end up testing.
First run your hand along this ledge in both directions, can you feel those little 'bumps'? Each of these are the head of a rib, you should be able to feel 10 in total.
4) Now to test them. Position your fingertips over one of these hands - I tend to start at T8, and work my work my way towards T18.
Now apply a downward pressure directly on this rib head. You must apply the pressure straight down vertically - not pointing inwards towards the horses body.
And use the pads of your fingers, not the fingertips themselves (this is the same as being poked in the rib, rather than examined for points of discomfort).
Watch their response...
5) Start off with gentle pressure and slowly build, working your way up to full finger pressure. A non-subluxated rib should be able to take this pressure without experiencing any pain reaction. Most of the time you should see no reaction when doing then test.
If you come to a point along this ledge that creates a consistent and repeatable pain response. Such as spams, pulling away, twitching, hard eyes, or tail flicking - you've just found your subluxated rib. Its as straightforward as that!
While there is no outward indication these ribs where subluxated, this test quickly showed revealed two subluxations we were then able to deal with during the course of the treatment.
If you've done this test and found your horse does have a subluxated rib its time to contact someone who can help correct this condition.
My horse was fine, but we're still having problems...
If that's the case there are a number of other things to check for.
With your middle finger run down the full length of the spine - withers, thoracic, lumber. Did anything sit oddly or break your flow? If it did you may be dealing with a subluxation of the spine or Flinchlocked bones.
Check your horse for ulcers - around 70% of the horses I meet suffer from this condition which ranged from mild discomfort to severe almost debilitating pain. If your horse has ulcers you need to address this immediately.
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Content and photographs copyright EquiCare 2013-2016 - Stock Images used with permission - Ghost Saddles used with permission. ConTact C.A.R.E, Flinchlock, and Flinchlock Release Therapy are all registered trademarks of Dale Speedy Ngatea ConTact Care and have been used with permission. No part of these articles may be used in part or in whole without the written permission of the author