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with Chiropracter Tyler Smith
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An Alternative Treatment for Maximum Performance
he American Bucking Bull is treated
like royalty these days and owners
spare no expense when it comes to
their super-star’s comfort, performance and health. Being diligent in these areas
not only protects their investment, it can maximize comfort, performance and ultimately the
longevity of a bull’s career.
Besides top-notch veterinary care, chiropractic care has become a popular alternative
method many contractors and breeders depend
on when their super-star bull exhibits soreness
and or a lack of normal performance. Identifying and improving symptoms of soreness or
discomfort have become high on the American
Bucking Bull owner’s checklist. While chiropractic care is no substitute for veterinary care,
it is fast becoming an alternative to issues not
requiring or improving with veterinarian services.
What is Chiropractic Care?
Chiropractic health care is a profession
which focuses on disorders of the muscular-
skeletal system and the nervous system, and
their effects on general health. In this drugfree, hands-on health care approach neuromuscular and skeletal issues, including but not
limited to back and neck pain, and joint pain
of the limbs are treated through manual and
instrumental manipulation of the spine and
varying joints.
What are the Educational
Requirements for a Bull
A bovine chiropractor must first be either
a licensed veterinarian or a licensed human
chiropractor to receive training for adjusting
bulls, horses or other animal species. Once a
vet or human chiropractor is trained to work
on animals a national board exam must be
taken and passed. This exam covers animal
anatomy, neurology and pathology as well as
an ability to demonstrate an acceptable level
of knowledge during a physical and practical
exam. After completing the exam the individual seeking certification from the AVCA (Ameri-
can Veterinarian Chiropractic Association) is
able to begin treatment on the species of their
What Types of Treatment do Bull
Chiropractors Use?
Chiropractors have very broad diagnostic
skills. The treatment given by chiropractors is
called spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustment and is done using the hands and body
and/or adjustment instruments that simulate
the effect of activators which are used in human chiropractic treatment.
What can Chiropractic
Manipulation Achieve?
The purpose of spinal manipulation is to
restore mobility to joints that have become
restricted in their range of motion because of
tissue injury. Tissue injuries lead to inflammation. Inflammation in turn restricts blood flow
and circulation as well as nerve signals to muscle tissue. It is common to see muscle atrophy
in areas that are affected by inflammation and
lack of circulation and nerve signal transfer.
How do Tissue Injuries Occur?
Tissue injuries can occur from repetitive motions or from direct trauma. The most
common tissue injuries noted in the American
Bucking Bull occur in the cervical, lumbar and
pelvic regions. These tissue injuries can occur
during performance or in a bull’s natural environment. Some of these injuries can result
from the repetitive flexion and twisting of the
spine during bucking, falls and stumbles during performance with and without rider and
even as a result of fighting with other bulls
while penned or pastured.
What to Look For?
A bull that may benefit from chiropractic
adjustments can be assessed by the owner in
many instances. Owners should pay attention
to their bull’s ability to move freely without
pain. If motion restriction or pain during motion is noted and all medical causes have been
ruled out, chiropractic care is an excellent alternative option.
If a bull normally performs to a certain level and all at once his performance wanes, soreness and tissue injury can often be the culprit.
Also if performance or comfort decreases after
a fall, stumble or injury, spinal adjustment may
be warranted. Above all, know your animal.
Know their normal, natural mode of movement, behavior and physical abilities. Then
compare past performance with current performance issues to determine if an individual
may benefit from chiropractic care.
What Should I Expect During a
Chiropractic Bull Treatment?
Most bovine chiropractors will began with
a visual assessment of a bull while in motion.
Expect to have an arena or area available in
which you and/or the chiropractor can move
the bull around. Visual assessment is con-
ducted at various gaits in both directions and
from various perspectives. The chiropractor
may view a bull in motion from the side, front
and rear. When in motion, a bull should have
a balanced, coordinated gait and should track
correctly, meaning the back feet are placed in
the tracks of their front feet. Any restrictions in
motion will be noted.
Tyler Smith is a certified human chiropractor and owns Smith Family Chiropractic in Elk
City, Okla. where he grew up. In addition, he is
AVCA certified with an extensive background in
the performance horse industry. A performance
horse owner himself, he splits his time between
treating humans, performance horses and bucking
bulls. Because Smith grew up around livestock and
rodeo the transition from humans to performance
horses and bucking bulls was easy. Smith is also
a firefighter in Elk City where he still resides with
wife, Becca and their children. To inquire about
bull chiropractic care see his ad on page xxx in this
issue of American Bucking Bull.
Photos Courtesy of Jill Drake, Sayre, Okla.
“Bull Chiropractor Tyler Smith conducting a visual assessment of a bucking bull in motion prior to treatment for soreness and motion restriction.”
Visual Assessment in Motion
Next the bull will be placed into a bucking chute and a
rope secured across the chute over his head. The rope provides safety to the chiropractor during treatment. Ironically
most bulls that are sore and in need of spinal adjustment
settle and appear to relax as the chiropractor begins his
manual assessment and ultimate adjustments.
During the manual assessment the chiropractor looks
for spinal alignment, soreness and inflammation, muscular
balance on each side of the spine and may manually push
on each vertebra assessing normal flex and movement
of them. The chiropractor will be looking for areas where
vertebrae movement is restricted as well as how they correspond to areas of concern that were noted during the observation of the bull in motion.
“For safety a properly secured head-rope over the bull’s neck
and across the bucking chute is used. Smith begins assessment of the neck to identify if motion and restriction is equal
on both sides.”
“Smith prepares to make a cervical adjustment using a
rubber mallet and instrument that resembles an activator
which is used in human chiropractic treatment.”
Manual Assessment of Cervical Spine
Once manual assessment is complete the chiropractor
will move on to the actual adjustment. There are two methods
used, often in conjunction with each other. The first method
is manual manipulation. During manual manipulation the chiropractor uses the hands and body to manipulate the spine.
The second method is instrument manipulation done with a
tool which simulates the effect that an activator which is used
in human treatment does. Instrument manipulation is ideal in
specific areas like the cervical spine which are virtually impossible to manually manipulate.
The American Bucking Bull q Sep/Oct 2010
Instrument Manipulation
“Smith manually adjusts the bull’s thoracic spine with
his hands.”
Manual Manipulation
The final phase in bull chiropractic treatment is visual
assessment after manipulation. Again the bull is observed
while in motion at varying gaits and from varying perspectives. The chiropractor is observing any improvements in
the bull’s ability to move without restriction and determining
how successful the treatment was.
“Post treatment assessment to determine if treatment was
successful and if the bull shows improved coordination,
locomotion and range of motion.”
Post Treatment Assessment
“PBR Bull Riders observe chiropractic treatment of a
bull by Tyler Smith during the 2010 Camp of Champions
in Sayre, Okla. (From left to right: Chad Denton, Corey
Navarre & Clay Taylor, ABBI breeder and owner of the bull
being treated.)”
The American Bucking Bull q Sep/Oct 2010