Abbie Smith
MSc (Hons) AM, MAA, BSc

Call / Text:
07749 963006


1 East View, Dacre Banks, Harrogate, HG3 4EQ

About McTimoney

What is McTimoney Manipulation?

McTimoney manipulation aims to realign and balance the animal's musculoskeletal system using a series of very light adjustments. Treatment allows the animal to achieve maximum potential through correct movement, balance and suppleness as it relieves pain and restores movement through manipulation of any misaligned joints through the neck, back and pelvis. Misaligned joints can interfere with neural function, so treatment can also promote health within your animal as well as restore and maintain soundness, movement and performance in your animal. Additionally it speeds up healing and recovery time in injured and stressed animals as well as a preventative measure for injury.

What is a misalignment?

The animal’s spine is made up of individual bones called vertebrae. These bones are joined by ligaments which are fairly inelastic but allow a certain range of movement of the vertebral joints. The spine provides the framework for muscles which are attached by tendons. These muscles work in pairs, one flexing the joint and the other lengthening to create movement. However, if a muscle goes into spasm (usually close to the tendon) it will shorten which puts pressure along the tendon and restricts the movement of the attached bone causing a misalignment. The associated muscle will have to compensate for this and lengthen putting strain on both sides of the joint which is why it is often associated with pain and stiffness.

The spine also encases the spinal cord which sends the information from the brain to all the organs in the body including the muscles. This is achieved via peripheral nerves which exit between the vertebral joints. Misalignments can cause narrowing of the gaps which can interfere with the nerve impulses reaching the body effectively and can have an affect on bodily functions as well as co-ordination and movement. For optimum health and performance it is vital that bones are moving freely and the joints are within their natural range of movement.

What does the treatment involve?

1. History taking- A detailed record of the animals past and present problems, illnesses, injury, symptoms and behavioural issues as well as details on the animals exercise and daily regimes and veterinary information. This information can give huge insight into possible causes of problems or injury which is vital in order to prevent problems from occurring in the future.

2. Static assessment- In order to determine if the animal has musculoskeletal asymmetry, such as muscle atrophy, abnormalities or differences between the left and right side a full static assessment is undertaken. The animal is felt all over for any areas of tension, heat or swellings indicative of injury as well as look for unusual hoof, shoe or claw wear which indicates any changes in normal movement.

3. Gait assessment- The animal will be assessed in walk and trot, in-hand to determine the appropriate treatment needed. Occasionally in the case of horses it may be necessary to see the horse on the lunge or under saddle. The gait assessment reveals any lameness, abnormal movement, weaknesses or differences in flight patterns and placements of the limbs which indicates underlying problems or compensatory changes to the movement. When necessary, animals will be referred back to the Veterinary Surgeon.

4. Paplation and adjustment- Pressure will then be applied along the animal's spine from the head to the tail feeling for misaligned joints. A series of light, quick adjustments are applied to the required areas which releases the muscle spasm and its associated pain allowing the joint to return to its normal range of movement. The treatment is pain free and most animals readily accept the treatment.

5. Massage- This is usually carried out on the soft tissues and is an important part of the treatment to improve circulation, improve muscle tone, release toxin build-up and relax muscle spasm. It is also useful to aid with relaxation of stressed, worried horses and identifying the on-set of tension or injury of muscles. In the instance of muscle atrophy an EMS (Electro muscular stimulation) device is occasionally used to stimulate the atrophied muscles and promote speedy recovery.

6. Aftercare - A full aftercare programme is given at the end of every treatment. This will give tailored advice specific to your animal outlining an exercise/workload programme, any advice on recommended tack/ lead/ harness changes, any massage/ stretches that may be beneficial and any other recommended further treatment.

Can animals be treated if there are no symptoms?

Yes, all animal’s can benefit from McTimoney manipulation as it is also used as a preventative measure from injury as well as recovery. Few top human athletes would compete without stretching and massage so if your horse is not experiencing any problems or misalignments then this may be of great benefit.

Pre and post competition massage assists with healthy muscles, muscle tone, suppleness and preventing muscle atrophy and tight knotted muscles (fibrositis). It also prevents muscle fatigue by increased removal of lactic acid so reduces stiffness after competition and assists with injury and problems during box rest. It also improves blood circulation and lymphatic drainage which helps with blemishes and injuries.

Massage and passive stretching increases synovial joint fluid production and helps to mobilize joints and muscles to maintain optimum range of movement. It improves stride length and muscles will be encouraged to work at maximum efficiency.

How often does my animal need treating?

The number and frequency of treatments needed varies between animals dependent on age, fitness, symptoms and type of work. It is advisable to have regular check ups to prevent minor stiffness turning into pain.

Horses with more notable problems or those having a first treatment may need a follow up treatment after which maintenance/ preventative treatments are recommended every 6-12 months dependent on work load and conformation.

Why is veterinary permission required before my animal is treated?

This is the result of The Veterinary Act (1996) passed to protect the welfare of sick and injured animals from treatment from unqualified persons.

The exceptions to this are 'manipulative therapies', but only with proper referral or consent by the animals vet. This gives us the opportunity to work along side the vet getting as much usefull information as possible to enable us to piece together the whole story and provide a more thorough treatment.