V R Course Information

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In order to attend this course, the registrant must have taken the equine massage course from sidonia.  There is information in the massage course that corresponds to the vertebral realignment work.

Why do I have to do the equine massage therapy training?

There is a simple adage:  muscle moves bone, not the other way around.

As this is both anatomically and functionally true, it is imperative that the soft tissues must be worked upon – competently – prior to any adjustment work.

This is true of any chiropractic work that is ever done on anything.  Period.  Joints move into the space more easily and they stay in place longer when the supporting soft tissues are worked upon first.  (Any human chiropractor and massage therapist knows this to be true).  Many times, I have found that the issue has indeed been soft tissue and not bone/joint, thereby negating the need to have an adjustment – yes, adjustments are done on cold tissues that are not necessary out of alignment every day by people who do not either understand or accept the simplicity of the above information.  Therapy is not meant to create harm in any way and for this reason, the decision has been made that anyone who wishes to take this course must have the proper training to release soft tissue.

Equine Vertebral Realignment and Joint Play

In this intensive 5 day course you can learn how to assess if your horse requires an adjustment and how to do the correct adjustment correctly. Palpation (how to use your hands to feel) is a large part of this course, as we must be able to identify boney landmarks. In this course it is an all hands on all day course where we work in teams of no less than 3 per horse. This creates safety, as each team will have a handler at all times.

Why do horses need adjustments?

Adjustments are required if a horse has either had an injury, or for maintenance. Something as simple as playing in the field, slipping on wet grass, improper saddle fit, unbalanced rider, improper training (where the horse is asked to move/turn more in one direction than the other), poor conformation and muscle tension can cause an area to require an adjustment.

The relief gained from just one treatment can be the difference between a horse which is uncomfortable-and shows the discomfort in various ways, from refusals, to sullenness, and a horse which has free movement, suppleness of joints, and an overall better attitude!

What is Vertebral Realignment and Joint Play?

Joint play can be done (almost) at any time, and involves any joints which are not associated with the spinal cord. These would include the limbs, jaw and the tail.

Vertebral Realignment involves the bones which encase the spinal cord and include all of the vertebrae.

Can I cause harm to my horse?

Yes, it is possible to cause harm to horses. I need to be honest with everyone on this very important question.

It is necessary to understand how bones interact with each other and the movements produced from joint to joint. A lack of movement will show on specific tests. It is important to learn all of the tests so as to never inadvertently cause harm. In this course we cover all of the contraindications (when we should not carry out a manipulation) so that we do not cause harm at any time.

All of the bones of the spine have have tests that can determine if and when it needs to be adjusted. It is for this reason that we can adjust safely according to what the horse’s body tells us and act safely using education and care in all our adjustments. Extreme care must be taken when a horse has become injured as veterinary intervention may be necessary.

The most extreme contraindication is a fracture (although many other contraindications will be covered). You will be taught how to look for signs that a vertebra has been fractured.

Causing harm to a horse which does not have any contraindications is extremely (almost impossibly) unlikely.

Is this all hands on, or will we be using devices?

This is an all hands-on course, and we do not use any devices-such as activators or mallets.

Mallets, hammers and activators will cause soft tissue injury.

I have made this statement clearly and in bold face print. I have been working with soft tissues as an RMT (registered massage therapist – human) an a CEMT (certified equine massage therapist) for over 20 years. As I have over two decades of experience in soft tissue work I can make the above statement with no censorship.

In a massage class in 2009, a student told the story of going to an abattoir (butcher) for an educational demonstration regarding the use of sticks in prodding cattle to move. As a demonstration, one cow was struck with a stick to get it to move – not with excessive violence, but for those of you who run cattle, you will understand the force required to move a cow. The cow was then butchered and the class was shown the area where the strike took place. The meat was now downgraded to dog food quality. This was only one strike. Think of the damage to the surrounding soft tissue with a mallet, hammer or activator.

The force which is used on a joint when using a hammer, mallet or activator is close to the same force, but in a much smaller concentrated area. Although the joint may indeed benefit from the adjustment (if a joint is struck with enough force, it will move/adjust) however, the damage to the surrounding tissues of the joint is unacceptable.

Another student told the story of having taken a chiropractic course that teaches the use of mallets. She was in need of chiropractic and asked the teacher if an adjustment was possible. The teacher did the adjustment with the mallet. Yes, the joint moved, the student felt better, however the ensuing bruise covered her entire hip.

In horses, we cannot see bruising, and as a result, damage that is caused from therapy, discipline (from crops, spurs, motivators and other horses as they work through their hierarchy in the herd) and injuries are not readily apparent, so we cannot make adjustments in our use of tools based on visible injury.

A joint must be placed into a position where there is stress prior to an adjustment. Conceptually, it is like cracking knuckles by placing the hand on a table, then striking it with sufficient force to move the bone- and action which no one would ever permit.

Just as an FYI regarding knuckle cracking will lead to arthritis: Donald L. Unger systematically cracked the knuckles on his left hand and left his right knuckles free for 60 years, demonstrating (if only anecdotally) that knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis. For this achievement, he won himself the Ig Nobel Award in Medicine, at the19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded in all the same categories as the higher-profile Nobel — physics, chemistry, medicine, economics, peace and literature — as well as four additional categories: public health, biology, mathematics, and veterinary medicine. Unlike the Nobel Prizes, Ig Nobel festivities allow prizewinners to show the audience their inventions and discoveries.

Are horses the same as other animals?

The equine vertebral system is unique in several ways:

The intervertebral discs in horses are not exactly the same as in humans and other vertebrates, equids cannot have a ‘bulging disc’ or ‘slipped disc’. The disc is significantly thinner and thus does not have the same thickness of cushioning found in humans as they are built on the horizontal and humans on the vertical.

As this above statement is an anatomical fact, the way equids are adjusted must be altered from that of humans and other animals.

In this course, I teach how to find the bones, how to move the joint into a specific alignment to put pressure on the joint and prepare it for an adjustment and how to apply pressure correctly – technique is everything.

Students will practice thrusts on my body so I can feel the thrusting motion and correct accordingly.


Can I adjust another person’s horse or just my own?

Each province in Canada has a Veterinary Association. Recently, the associations have been looking to disallow any person but a veterinarian from charging for chiropractic services, (working with horses which they do not own) along with other equine services- eg.equine dentistry.

Currently, in Ontario the CVO (College of Veterinarians of Ontario) utilizes ‘The Veterinarians Act’ to police veterinary actions. Within their own regulations (regulation of their own members, i.e. veterinarians), they have included the practice of equine chiropractics; however, according to the Ontario Veterinarians Act R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER V.3, the:

“practice of veterinary medicine” includes the practice of dentistry, obstetrics including ova and embryo transfer, and surgery, in relation to an animal other than a human being;

It is very important that participants wishing to take this course in Ontario (or any other province where their perspective Acts may include either chiropractics or the vaguely worded:”treatment of any nature” ) to understand this, as again, this course is taught for owners to work on their own horses regardless of which province the course is taught.

Anyone may legally practice in their provinces so long as their respective provinces do not have an inclusion within the ‘practice of veterinary medicine’ within the Veterinarians Act.

Any person can learn how to do adjustments, and work on their own horses, as they are (sorry for the legal term) chattel-property.

In this class, on the final day, students will asses the horse, mark the places of issue(s), they will then be checked by Sidonia McIntyre to confirm the area of issue(s), then while being supervised by Sidonia McIntyre, the student will work with the area(s) of issue.

Is there a manual with this course?

Yes, there is a course manual which is yours to keep.

What do I need to bring to the course?

Please bring:

hat, sunglasses, thin gloves (Dollar store gloves are perfect) steel toed shoes if you have them and weather appropriate clothing. I prefer to work outside (weather permitting).

a lunch (coffee, tea, etc. is provided)

What are the class times?

Day 1: 7:50am registration -4pm

Days 2-3: 9am-4pm

Day 4: 9am-2pm

Day 5  8am-12

Days 1-4 may be slightly longer if the class is larger.

Where are you teaching the course?

I teach in Edmonton and Ontario during the 6 Week Professionals Program.  I may add another class in another area depending on the feedback I received from my graduates.  Plese visit the ‘Course Dates’ for all the locations offered this year, then the matching ‘Course Locations’ section under the Vertebral Realignment heading

The course is taught within the 6 week program.  The week of the VR course (the 3rd week of the 6 week program) is opened to graduates from the Equine Massage Course.

Do I receive a certificate?

Yes, after completing this course, you will receive a certificate of attendance for equine vertebral realignment and joint play.

What are your qualifications?

Several years ago, I took a course specifically in equine vertebral realignment and joint play taught by Daniel Kamen DCM (Daniel is both a human and animal chiropractor).

I have been a practicing human registered massage therapist with 2200 hours of initial training, along with a host of additional courses taken along the way for 17 years, and as such, have intimate knowledge of how muscles and bones work together to yield movement. Equine anatomy (from a bone/muscle relationship) is similar –muscles which are attached to bones contract and as a result, bones move.

I am a firm believer in continuing education, and I hold a certificate with distinction from the University of Guelph in Equine Health Sciences.

Why do I teach this course?

In my home province of Ontario, only veterinarians or DCM (doctors of chiropractic medicine) are permitted to take the animal chiropractics course taught in Ontario. I had to take my course in the USA.

In the course I attended, I also learned how harmful the use of mallets, hammers and activators are to horses. There are people in Canada that were taught this dangerous method who now teach this to others.

At what point did this start and where will it stop? If I am taught something from someone that I trust, then I presume that the information is accurate. I may also be reluctant to accept another’s opinion on the subject. This is the crux of the problem. When a teacher is taught something that they now teach to others and the information is not quite accurate, then it only perpetuates the problem. This is the reason I teach this course. My teacher Daniel, as an American, did not have the legal right to teach in Canada. To my knowledge, this has left me as the only person in Canada that teaches equine vertebral realignment without the use of mallets and hammers that is made available to horse owners.

Veterinarians and human chiropractors are the only persons that are permitted to learn the equine (and animal) chiropractics course which is approved by the provincial veterinary associations.

Teaching people a safe, effective technique and educating about the damage to the soft tissues (and the joint capsule) of the horses that have the dangerous method used is the reason I teach this course.

There are many remote locations in this country – I’ve seen many of them first hand! Veterinarian care can be difficult to get in some locations, and if the veterinarian has not taken the chiropractics course, then there is literally no one within several hundred Kms that can help. By making this course available, setting it to a very reasonable pace, time frame and price, it is now possible for anyone to learn.


Are there any prerequisites?

Yes, there is homework for this class that is available on line

What is the cost of the course?

The cost of the course is $900.00 + Prov. tax

If I have taken the massage course, do I get a discount?

No, the cost of the course is $900 + Prov. tax.

If a student returns to take the course again, then there is a discount of $200, or if a student upgrades to the 6 week program, there is a discount of $200.

How do I sign up for this course?

Please go to the ‘application form’ section on this site.

How do I get in touch with you?

You may go to the ‘Contact’ section of this web site and send me an e-mail.