Dr. Kurt Weber is standing on a stool beside a horse, his hands rest on it’s back, ready to give the horse its first adjustment. He pushes down, and the next thing he knows he’s lying flat on the floor, realizing the horse has just kicked the stool out from underneath him with lightning speed. Kurt observes with a smile, “It’s a good reminder of how fast a horse can move… you know, the moments you remember are the ones where you almost feel like your life is in jeopardy a little.”
This is just one of the many stories Kurt has in his nearly ten years of being an equine chiropractor, and his nearly twenty as a veterinarian. Kurt attended the University of Tennessee where he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1992. He then went on to study in Germany at an accredited Animal Chiropractic school called “Options For Animals” while he and his family were living in Kenya. They later moved back to the United States where he completed the course in 2008. He now owns a business in Andover, Ragged Mountain Equine Veterinary Services, where he specializes in treating horses as a veterinarian and chiropractor. He’s lived in Andover with his wife, Karin Clough, and three kids, Finn, Luke, and Sofia Weber, for over ten years; he loves being involved in his community.
What the heck is a horse chiropractor you might ask? Well, being an equine chiropractor is exactly what it sounds like, he adjusts horses’ backs so they can feel and perform better. Whether it’s a show horse, a horse that won’t run a certain way, or a horse that is not moving well, a proper spinal adjustment can fix it. Horses are ridden all the time, so naturally, there are going to be areas in their back that aren’t aligned properly. Whether it’s saddle placement or the riding style, a good back-cracking can help with the problem. Kurt sums it up, “The main goal of chiropracting is really to keep the horse moving properly.”
Kurt explained how it works. He stands up on a stool next to the horse to get above its back, then he feels around to “…find areas that are moving less than I feel they should be moving.” When he finds a problem area, he makes the adjustment. He also works on the legs as well if they are out of line. You might think that with such a large animal it would have to be sedated so it doesn’t fight back or react in an uncooperative way, but that’s rarely the case.
Kurt very rarely has to sedate horses, “It’s [sedation] really only for those ‘ADD’ horses that are just getting distracted and not cooperating.” Also, if a horse is being very aggressive and uncooperative, he might have to give up on it because it’s just not something that will work for that horse, although he tries his hardest to make it work. He says the best patients are “Very calm, very relaxed, and not moving.” So it’s really very similar to working with people – they’re just a lot bigger with a tendency to kick when startled.
Chiropractic treatments make up around 40% of Kurt’s work. The other 60% is more traditional, with dentistry, lameness exams, X-rays, vaccinations, bloodworm treatment, etc. Being an equine vet, he has to travel a lot because it’s easier for him to go to the horses, than for the horses to come to him. He has to travel farther to meet patients because there isn’t a very dense population of horses in Andover. He says, “I do spend a lot of time in my car! During the busy season, March-November, I probably drive 100-180 miles a day, 4-5 days a week. So I’m in the car for 2 to 4 hours a day
Kurt adds, “I love living in Andover, and being a part of both the Andover and Proctor communities. We’re close to the mountains and ski areas; the access to unpopulated, beautiful places, lakes, ponds, rivers, woods, places like Elbow pond, makes it pretty special. It’s a great and healthy place to raise kids too.”
Kurt is very passionate about what he does as a veterinarian and a chiropractor and wants people to know that horse chiropracting is incredibly important to a horse’s well being. He treats horses all over the state, so the next time your horse needs a good back-cracking, Kurt can come to the rescue and get your horse back to feeling like itself again. “There are some challenges, but it’s also very rewarding when you get to see the horses feeling better, and the riders noticing the difference.”