LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Top athletes use chiropractors to help them to play at the best of their ability. Kentucky’s top thoroughbreds are no exception, as they prepare for the greatest two minutes in sports.
When it comes to avoiding aches and pains, Dr. Adrienne Robertson might just be the best kept secret in racing. “We know that it works and I think if more of them knew that it actually works they’d be more open to it,” said Dr. Robertson.
In addition to treating dogs, cats and everything in between at her Louisville practice, the veterinarian offers chiropractic care. The in-demand treatment is for animals large and small, but especially for horses racing on the highest level.
In the weeks leading up to racing season, it’s not unusual to see Dr. Robertson on the backside of Churchill Downs. But most of the time she’s adjusting horses at Bannon Woods Veterinary Hospital. She uses an activator that applies up to 93 pounds of pressure.
“This is what we’re going to use to fix the subluxations in his spine. A subluxation is a misalignment of a vertebrae,” Dr. Robertson explained, as she showed off the activator.
It takes the doctor about 10 minutes to evaluate a horse’s ailments and work out the kinks. Not only does she use the activator, she also uses laser treatments to work out sore muscles.
“They perform better. They feel better. We’re giving patients new life,” said Dr. Robertson.
While horses can’t tell the doctor what’s wrong, she watches for certain cues. “They’ll lick and chew, their eyes will soften, they’ll relax, they’ll go to the bathroom,” she said.
Like most sports, horse racing has lots of anti-doping rules. This is a way to get around performance-enhancing drugs.
“So with all the drug laws that we have, we have to be very cautious about what goes into these athletes and this is a way we can provide pain relief, relieve muscle soreness,” said Dr. Robertson.
She says owners don’t want to medicate their horses. Chiropractic care can help them avoid that and keep them racing longer. “They’re athletes. They want that Peyton Manning. They want them to race as long as possible,” said Dr. Robertson.
Dr. Robertson says lots of race horses now get pre and post-race adjustments to help with recovery. “We know that it works and I think if more of them knew that it actually works they’d be more open to it,” she said.