Hera is a breathtaking, powerful animal. Follow her body’s contour, and it is an almost flawless line of beauty. But she isn’t perfect. An untrained eye might glance over the blemish, but the horse’s owner, Brycie Wynne, did not. A vertebra on Hera’s rear spine was sticking up, causing her legs to slip. So it was time to call Dr. Jack Donnelly.
Donnelly has an unassuming presence, but his personality exudes confidence and knowledge. He was a police officer in New York City for 20 years. After retirement, he took a vocational interest test. Chiropractic medicine ranked high, so he moved to Texas and in 1993, enrolled at the Parker College of Chiropractic.
In 2003 Parker developed an animal chiropractic program, and Donnelly was the seventh person to graduate. He is a licensed chiropractor and certified in extreme-adjustment and bulges/hernias for his “two-legged patients” and a certified chiropractor for his “four-legged patients.”
Donnelly meets Hera in the middle of the ring. He is cautious around her, softly setting his green box beside her. A hand grazes her face, and she relaxes at his touch. She releases a snort of contentment as he gently nuzzles her face and plants a big kiss on her cheek. He has work to do, and needs her cooperation.
Donnelly’s animal clients have included dogs, horses, a prize-winning bucking bull and a cat. He travels all over taking care of his patients, but he often gets asked the same question.
“People say, ‘How do you adjust a horse?’” Donnelly says. “Well, I’m vertically challenged, so I stand up high enough to get the right line of correction. If I’m pressing in the direction that corrects something, it feels good. So, the horse automatically leans into me, and then all I need to do is a quick thrust.”
His movements are fluid and simple, a push here and there. His green box allows him to stand over the horse, giving him the right line of correction, and he pushes on the problem area, but Hera only sways with the movement. Donnelly is helping her. Hera and her owner know that.
“I’m so grateful,” Wynne says. “It’s amazing the effect he’s had on her.”
In three short visits, Hera is becoming a different horse. Wynne says that because of the back pain, Hera shortened her stride. Now that she’s feeling better, she needs to be fitted for different shoes.
Donnelly begins the final process of Hera’s treatment. He picks each of her legs up and stretches them. Hera knows what comes next, because it’s her favorite part: the tail grab. It’s the horse equivalent to a human having his back popped. She’s finished and ready to go for a ride.
The ultimate goal for Donnelly is to not see his patients anymore. He wants to help them focus their efforts on preventative medicine, but he knows that takes time.
“Sometimes problems have been there for a long,” Donnelly says. “I would love to take a magic wand and make it go away, but if I could do that, I’d have a line going out in the street.”