Chiropractor works on animals

Rick Kauffman of Clifton prepares to make a chiropractic adjustment on a 20-year-old horse named Rusty on Kauffman’s property near Palisade. His wife, Jane, assists him. Kauffman said he’s been kicked by horses about 10 times, but scratching their necks helps keep them passive.

Canine treatments have been part of Rick Kauffman’s animal chiropractic practice for 27 years. Nine-year-old Josey, above, receives some adjustment from Kauffman, who also teaches the practice at Parker College in Dallas.

Rick Kauffman’s first chiropractic patient was his yellow Labrador retriever, Thor.

Kauffman, who lives in Clifton and is semi-retired, attributes years of adjustments to keeping Thor alive for 17 years and three months.

Kauffman adjusts humans, too, but he has offered chiropractic services to animals for 27 years. He’s adjusted birds, goats, sheep, cats, bulls, cows, an exotic lizard and a pig, but he does most of his work with horses, he said. Dogs are a distant second.

A lower-back injury sustained while weight-lifting led Kauffman to see a chiropractor in the 1970s. Six months of treatment had him back in shape, and he won the Mr. Colorado bodybuilding competition in 1976.

Already on his way to a medical degree, he switched his interest to chiropractic and graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, in 1985.

He learned from a Palmer College professor how to adjust animals, which requires learning new angles and additional hours of training, Kauffman said.

“I adjusted an animal before I ever adjusted a human,” he said.

Word of his first experience adjusting his own dog spread around the college, and soon other students were bringing their pets to him.

Given his lifelong love of animals, the experience caught on, and Kauffman said he devoured extra information about helping animals.

At a seminar in Denver, he was told about a school in Illinois, Options for Animals, that at the time was the only animal chiropractic school in the nation.

He attended the school and taught there a couple of times, beginning in 1997. Kauffman now teaches animal chiropractic at Parker College in Dallas.

Smaller animals can be harder to adjust because their spines are tinier, Kauffman said. Larger animals pose their own problems. Kauffman said he probably has been kicked by horses some 10 times, but he’s learned to scratch their necks and be calm around horses, which usually keeps them passive during adjustments.

In all of his years of adjusting animals, Kauffman said, “The worst thing that’s ever happened is nothing.”

The best thing that’s ever happened is having lame horses walk again and saving animals from euthanasia, he said. Kauffman said chiropractic work not only can help animals move better, but it also can release them from spinal problems that can lead to everything from attitude problems to digestive issues.

“It’s very emotional for me. I just feel like that’s one of the biggest reasons God put me here,” he said.

Kauffman said he used to try to rescue animals that were hurt when he was a child. When they died, he took it hard.

“Now, it’s like I’ve learned enough I don’t have to cry anymore,” he said. “When you see a horse that was lame walk perfectly, there’s no word in the English language for how it makes me feel.”

To reach Kauffman, call 424-1609.


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