By Stephanie Malench
A few years ago, Dr. Renold Bleem was becoming discouraged at the changes in health care and insurance payments to his chiropractic business, Bleem Family Chiropractic, in Havana. His patients were getting angry with changes in the Affordable Care Act making them pay too much. He was also missing the country life, having grown up on a dairy farm in Southern Illinois.
Bleem decided to he needed to “get back to the barn” and went back to school in his late 40s with a new diagnosis of dyslexia. He attended Options for Animals Chiropractic College in Wellsville, KS, one of only 5 such schools in the United States. In February of 2019 he added animal chiropractic to his practice.
Bleem is one of only 28 chiropractors in Illinois actively certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association and one of only 11 in Illinois certified by the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association. His goal is to eventually teach in a chiropractic school.
Approximately one-third of Bleem’s clients are animals, including everything from ferrets and dogs to show cattle and race horses. Bleem is getting ready to see patients in a clinic that sees exotic animals and will learn to work on reptiles, believing that “all spines matter”.
In order for a horse to be seen, a referral has to be given from the vet and the owner or rider needs to be able to tell Bleem what the issue is with the horse. Bleem believes his heightened intuition and ability to read the animal stems directly from his dyslexia.
Oftentimes, riders notice something is wrong because the horse trots or gallops wrong, giving the rider a sore back.
This reporter caught up with Dr. Bleem and his office manager/wife Melanie at Fairmont Park Race Track outside Collinsville last week. Bleem was working on a chestnut filly named Hotmomma. Melanie explained the process to me while the doctor did the adjustment. A full adjustment on a horse takes about 20 minutes.
Most of the time Bleem starts at the tail end on the back and uses the tail as a rudder, checking the horse’s reflexes. He wants the tail to swing and be flexible “like a toy rubber snake”. If the horse is experiencing issues, it will sometimes move around.
Bleem pauses until it settles down. He also pauses after each area is adjusted so the adjustment can be absorbed by the body. Signs the horse is relaxing and trusting Bleem include deep exhalations, licking lips, yawning, and smacking their lips.
As he works his way up towards the head, Bleem pays special attention to the withers on the front of the back right before the neck where the saddle rests. This area receives a lot of stress during riding.
Bleem also feels it is important to stretch the horse’s shoulders by pulling the front legs to the outside, since it is unable to do that for itself. The final part of the treatment is down the legs to the hoofs.
At the end of the treatment, it is not uncommon for the horse to express its gratitude to Bleem by making direct eye contact with him or resting its head against him to let him know it feels better.