The knowledge, perception and utilization of equine chiropractic by horse riders in KwaZulu-Natal
Snow, Kirsten Moya
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Background: Horses are unlike most animals as they take part in equine sports and thus are athletic animals. Comparable to a human athlete, horses are prone to sports related injuries and disease. Equine chiropractic has shown to be one of the most utilized forms of complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM) worldwide, providing a drug free approach to equine health care and maintenance. However, equine chiropractic lacks research and therefore a wide gap in the literature exists. Studies on CAVM therapies have shown that these therapies are largely driven by the public and the public’s perceptions towards these therapies. However, little is known of the public’s perceptions towards equine chiropractic in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Horse riders represent the primary contact with the horse and are in the best position to note the outcome of post equine chiropractic treatment. For this reason they have influence on the utilization of equine chiropractic. It is, therefore, important to attempt to close the gap through ascertaining the horse riders’ knowledge, perception and utilization of equine chiropractic, particularly in KZN, where no such data exists. Aim: The aim of this study is to determine the knowledge, perception and utilization of equine chiropractic amongst horse riders in the KZN region. Method: The research design is a descriptive, quantitative, self administered survey based study. The study population included all horse riders in KZN (N= 500). There is no available list that details the number of horse riders in KZN, therefore, it was estimated that there are 500 horse riders in KZN (This was based on the number of horses stabled in KZN). The study sample included all horse riders at stable yards in KZN that had given written permission for the research to take part at their yard (N= 330). This was estimated by the number of horses stabling at the yards where owners had given written permission. Results: The response rate was 25% (n=83). The respondents were predominantly white (98%) and female (81%), and between the ages of 41- 50 years. Most respondents had previously been treated successfully by a chiropractor and had tertiary education. The majority of respondents were part of a horse society and participated predominantly in show- jumping. Most respondents had ridden horses for 0-10years, and currently rode only one horse. Their main horse (the horse they rode the most), for which most respondents were both the owner and rider, stayed predominantly in a stable and was between the ages of 5- 10 years. Most respondents had not sought alternative veterinary care for this horse, but had sought alternative veterinary care for their other horse(s) that they rode. Out of all the alternative veterinary therapies respondents reported to utilize, equine chiropractic showed to have the highest utilization. Equine chiropractic reported to have an overall high success rate with both the respondents’ main horse (92%) and their other horse(s) (87.5%). Respondents’ overall subjective knowledge of equine chiropractic was ‘that they knew something about it’. Respondents’ objective knowledge score was 75%. Most respondents had gained their knowledge of equine chiropractic through a friend and stated that the information they had gained was favourable towards equine chiropractic. It was interesting to note that 90% of respondents had some knowledge of equine chiropractic. Most respondents knew of one or more equine chiropractor(s), and were referred to them predominantly by a riding instructor. Just under half (49.4%) of the respondents had utilized an equine chiropractor, yet most respondents showed to have accurate knowledge of what equine conditions chiropractors treat. The majority of respondents supported the future utilization of equine chiropractic, but would like more information on equine chiropractic techniques. The research data revealed a trend showing that the utilization of alternative equine therapies or equine chiropractic corresponded with an increased knowledge of equine chiropractic. The data revealed graphically that the more equine chiropractors a respondent knew of, the more they utilized equine chiropractic. Conclusion: Respondents showed predominantly to have a positive perception towards equine chiropractic. Their knowledge of equine chiropractic was overall accurate and they showed to utilize and support the future utilization of equine chiropractic.