McTimoney Chiropractic Technique

Joanne Archer answers your questions about this technique and the problem with Roached Backs.

What Is Chiropractic Technique?

Chiropractic is a manipulation technique that adjusts the bones of the spine and joints in order to help maintain good health and, normal range of movement and promote natural well-being through the free flow of nervous energy.

Who Is John McTimoney

John McTimoney developed the technique perfecting a toggle speed to fast that it introduces a tiny vibration around the area where the misalignment has occurred and allows it to naturally adjust.

The speed of the toggle is paramount and the adjustment is hardly felt by the patient. He developed this technique with humans initially and then went on to apply it to animals. Many years on the school based near Oxford now offers a postgraduate level of degree taking five years to become qualified as a chiropractor.

What is the Importance of the Spine?


The spine has spinal nerves passing out between the vertebra that control both involuntary and voluntary movement. The integrity and balance of the spine is paramount to good health. The back is often abused and used in ways that decrease its natural range of movement. The Alexander technique is another method of spinal maintenance through exercise and correct posture and works wonderfully to maintain health. Yoga, Meditation and Palates are also beneficial to maintaining good health for humans. Sadly these techniques cannot be applied to horses, although the Tellington Touch does address the way in which a horse carries himself and encourages a beneficial weight distribution through muscular strengthening.

Horses & Their Problems


The horse was not designed to carry humans. A carriage, a stretcher, a car, and a bicycle, have all been designed to carry the human, but not the horse. It is important to understand that when we ask our horses to support us on their backs we are tampering with nature.

One consequence of misalignment of the lumbar spin, a commonly affected area is the appearance of the ‘roached spine’.  The lumbar vertebrae are held in dorsiflexion as the strained muscles restrict normal movement. The horse is unable to properly utilize its hind legs due to the tension and weakening in this area. It is equivalent to the small of our back.



Joanne answers the following question about the technique and how it can be applied and what we should be looking for to find out if our horses have misalignments?

Q1. Could you explain the causes of Roach Backs and how would you treat them?

A1. A roached back may be congenital but more often is a functional adaptation by the horse to cope with a number of adverse factors including poor saddle fit, compromise core muscle strength or inappropriate riding or training. If the lumbar spine does not flex when ridden, the hindquarters cannot engage. If this is the case then the muscles of this area become strained and inflexible thus leading to stiffness and a roached spine appearance.


Q2. Do I need my vet’s permission before I can allow you to treat my horse?

A2. Yes. The 1984 Veterinary Act states that any practitioner needs veterinary permission to treat a horse.

Q3. What should I be looking for in order to identify problems?

A3. Look at your horse side on, from behind and from a high point along his back when he is square to spot asymmetry in his body.

Q4. What behavioral problems might follow misalignments?

A4. You may notice he can perform better on one rein than the other, or has suddenly become resistant in his way of going. Other signs the horse is experiencing difficulty when working his back include;

  1. Ears back, moving away when saddled or mounted.
  2. Unable to work correctly in a consistent outline.
  3. Suddenly starting to nap or rear.
  4. Bucking or kicking out behind when making transitions.
  5. Apparent oversensitivity when groomed.
  6. Not standing square comfortably or easily.

Q5. Does my horses need to be sedated?

A5. No. I don’t treat under sedation, as I need a fully reactive horse to judge the treatment.

Q6. What kind of work would you recommend the horse exercises following the treatment?

A6. There is usually 48 hours rest and then certain exercises prescribes to help strengthen weakened areas.

Q7. What follow up treatments would be necessary?

A7. 2 or 3 treatments are usually sufficient to deal with the original problem. Many people then choose to have their checked regularly i.e. 6 monthly, as a preventative measure.

For more information contact:


Kimber House
1 Kimber Road,
Oxfordshire, OX14 1BZ

Tel: 01235 523 336
Fax: 01235 523576