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Dr Jessica Read, D.C.

Holistic Healing with a difference

Early experiences with animal healing

The cow in the paddock with a twisted bowel

In the mid to late 80s, I lived in the South Western part of Western Australia in a small farming community. The house we rented was a small weatherboard house on the side of a dirt road, surrounded on three other sides by open paddocks. The house and paddocks belonged to an Italian immigrant from Calabria, who treated his tenants like serfs, and his animals not much better. It was not a great situation from that point of view but we were benefiting from living there in other ways.
The farmer operated a dairy farm on part of his land and the paddocks around us were often full of black and white or brown milking cows. One day he decided to turn over the earth in one of the paddocks behind our house. I assumed this was for the purpose of helping the grass grow better. One thing I learned during the short time I spent in this farming area was that a farmer's biggest concern is how the grass is growing.

So the soil in this paddock was now all turned over and lumpy. One day a cow was brought there on the back of a tray truck and unceremoniously dumped in the middle of the paddock. She stayed lying on her side, with no one attending to her needs for two whole days. The sun was hot and she had nothing to drink. It was heart wrenching to watch.

On the third day, I decided that we had to do something. So we walked over, my then husband, my eight year old daughter, our very young baby boy, and I. It was not easy going but I was determined to see if we could help this poor cow. We had brought some water with us of course.

She was still alive and managed to drink a bit. I had also brought my activator, which is an instrument that you can use to give a small impulse as an adjustment. I didn't use it for people anymore, preferring to just use my own fingers in a more gentle way. But it was useful with big animals with large vertebrae.

I checked all her vertebrae, by using my finger muscle testing on myself. I adjusted the area in the direction indicated by my tests. The main problem area seemed to be the first lumbar vertebra, which in humans and according to the system I had been taught, is where the nerves that go to the ileocecal valve come from. The ileocecal valve is a one way valve between the small and large intestine, located just above the appendix in humans.  So using my activator I corrected the misalignment. Then we trudged back home through the dry lumpy muddy furrows.

I got to work on cooking up some herbs I thought might help her kidneys as she was very dehydrated. Then we all went back to her and poured as much as we could of the herbs into her mouth. We may have done this two days in a row, I don't quite remember. What I do remember is that the day came very soon when she stood up on her own and made her way back to the dairy to rejoin her companions! What resilience she had!

A few weeks later I was relating this story to one of my patients who also happened to farm cows. She said that cows did sometimes get a twisted gut where the ileocecal valve is located and she said that the cow usually dies. The farmer had probably dumped her with the idea that if she recovered she recovered and if she didn't, then she would die. In other words, he didn't consider it to be his problem...My patient told me that what we did for the cow would definitely have made a difference to her recovery. I was very happy to have confirmation of my findings and even happier to know that we had saved an animal's life!

I had never adjusted a cow before this, nor had I had anything to do with cows. The internet wasn't around yet so I couldn't check what a bovine spine looked like. So I just treated her as if she were a human who walked on four legs instead of two, but with a spine that was the equivalent of a human spine. And it worked! I used this same assumption with all my animal patients until I could check what their spine actually looked like on the internet. Interestingly enough, all living beings seem to have a very similar spinal set up, with adaptations for each species' life style and needs.

Horses in Western Australia

While we were living in the 'little brown house' on the side of the road, I began to see a few human patients in a lean-to room built on to the front facade. It had its own entry door so was nice and separate from the rest of the dwelling. The word got around that I was 'pretty good' and so I was asked by one of my patients to have a look at one of her partner's horses. He wasn't walking well and she wondered if I could assist him. I find it hard to resist a call for help so I said that I would come over and have a look. Who knows, maybe my methods would work on horses too? So the whole family came with me, my husband, my daughter and our baby boy. The horse had been placed near a fence so that it couldn't walk away. A forty gallon empty drum was placed near him for me to climb up on in order for me to reach the horse's back. I laughed inwardly... this is not what my parents had planned for me when they had me learn four languages plus Latin in a very tough high school. I didn't care, I was so much happier here that I had been in those long gone days!

So here I was, balancing on top of the drum and moving my fingers along the horses spine from head to tail, testing for misalignments as I went along. I also checked his pelvis. I adjusted where my tests indicated, using my activator for a stronger impulse. This particular horse had a sacroiliac problem (the sacroiliac joints are located at the back of the pelvis between the sacrum and the top part of the hip bone), so I recommended that the owner should walk the horse twice a day for about fifteen minutes. This would help dry out the joint and improve the movement of this articulation. The owner was a bit surprised at this but I assured him that by the end of each walk, his horse's walking would have improved.

From memory, I think I adjusted this horse only twice and then the owner was happy that he was performing as he expected and wanted him to. He also confirmed that his horse's walking did indeed improve at the end of each fifteen minute walk. He was very happy with my work. So was I! I had just 'invented' my own method of adjusting a horse! Who knew that I could do that? I didn't, but I tend to give things a try and use logic, reasoning and intuition together to work things out. It's not a bad method!

I forgot to say that I am, or was, actually scared of horses. I had had very little to do with them growing up. And they are pretty big and powerful creatures. However, once I see them as patients requiring my care, the fear goes away and I become the 'healer' part of myself and I trust that this large animal will be kind and gentle with me as I try to help it/him/her.

The word got around and I was asked to adjust a few more horses. One of them was a non gelded one year old colt. He was so full of testosterone that I couldn't even get near him. He kept rearing up. His problem wasn't a chiropractic one!! His owner was pretty much of the same nature, full of testosterone and not much grey matter to call upon. He was seething with anger even before I arrived and became even more annoyed with me when I said I couldn't help his horse. He refused to pay me for the visit. This in turn annoyed me and I followed the issue up with the local court. A few months later, the colt's owner sheepishly dropped in the meager $40 I was charging plus $30 in court fees!


We returned to Melbourne at the end of 1989. In early 1990 I did a locum (working in another chiropractor's clinic while he/she is away) for a couple of weeks. The receptionist heard so many positive comments from the patients as they came out from their session with me that she began to book in her whole family one by one! This lady and her husband had recently adopted a retired racing greyhound. He had been in an accident on the track, I think several dogs had bumped into each other and he had come out of it unable to race anymore and walking with difficulty. They really loved this dog. It's beautiful to see how people become so attached to their rescue animals. It brings the best out of them.

It wasn't possible for me to look at the greyhound during my locum time, so the couple drove one hour to bring him to me at my residence a few weeks after I had stopped working. I had never treated a dog before so took the same attitude as I had with the horses, i.e. that this was a human on four legs. He required many adjustments to his whole spine but the worst area affected was his sacrum which was not only twisted in relation to the hip bones (at the sacroiliac articulation) but was also distorted in itself. The sacrum is a triangular bone at the base of the spine, between the last lumbar vertebra and the coccyx. It is made up of four segments which at the start of life are separated by cartilage. The cartilage later ossifies (turns into bone) and when you see a dried skeleton, it appears as one bone. However, there remains a weakness between the four segments where the cartilage used to be. Severe twisting of the lower part of the spine can cause the segments to become misaligned in relation to each other. I have often found this in human patients and in fact learned about this particular condition from having it myself.

I adjusted the greyhound's sacral segments and he immediately appeared relieved and his back muscles relaxed. The owners brought him to me once more. They were so happy to tell me  how much better he was now walking. He only required a few more small adjustments. I received a call a few weeks later from the owners, telling me he was now walking totally normally and was the happiest of dogs, and they were so appreciative of what I had done for him. So there you are, a dog can be treated as a 'human on all fours' and adjusted accordingly!

Retired and damaged racehorses, flower essences

Cooper and his neck

Paige and Chloe. Kinesiology.


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