Sherman College of Chiropractic
Karla Christy, D.C.
Animal Adjusting: Karla Christy Finds Her Niche
by Freelance Writer Beverly Knight
It’s not that Karla Christy doesn’t like people. It’s just that she really likes animals — and people who like animals. The 1998 Sherman graduate became a chiropractor because she wanted to work with animals, especially horses, and she has successfully paired her passion for horses and rodeo competition with a practice that continues to grow, despite the fact that she depends on word-of-mouth to attract patients.
“I have been told that ‘horse’ was my first word,” says the 35-year-old competition barrel racer who began riding lessons at age six and got her first horse when she was seven. It wasn’t until her family moved to North Carolina when she was 13 that her competitive nature surfaced. That’s when she started barrel racing, winning top prizes wherever she competed.
Although Christy had been under chiropractic care her entire life, a result, she says, of her mother’s philosophy that healing comes from within, it was her involvement with rodeo that provided an introduction to animal chiropractic.
In 1994, her barrel horse suddenly stopped winning. When she couldn’t figure out why the usually reliable animal was having difficulty, she took him to an animal chiropractor. After an adjustment, he won the next race — making his rider a believer in the benefits of chiropractic for animals.
Entering Sherman in October 1995, Christy was determined to become an animal chiropractor. Her course work soon convinced her that she also wanted to work with people, she says, but she readily admits, “I am a people chiropractor only because people make my horses look good.”
Now she works and lives with her “furry, four-legged children” on “A Little Piece of Heaven,” a 15-acre ranch with 10 acres of pasture, two barns, a shop, an office, a garden and a house. Her practice is 85 to 90 percent horses or horse people.
And lest anyone wonder about adjusting those horses, Christy says, with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek, “I tell them it’s easy to adjust the horse once you can get it to lie down on the table.” Actually she uses a tall ladder, working posterior to anterior, feeling all the way down the spine, palpating and watching how the horse walks. See a video of Christy examining a horse.
Mondays and Thursdays Christy sees people and animals in her office, Wednesdays she sees horses, and Tuesdays and Fridays she travels to barns to adjust horses. She even has two different names for her practice: Health Source Chiropractic, the “people name,” and Peak Performance, the “animal name.”
There is never a dull moment, the enthusiastic Christy admits. Regardless of what day it is, her office is teeming with animals. In addition to horses, she sees dogs and cats, but no one is surprised to see goats, sheep and chickens on occasion. But the horses that are such a large part of her practice are dearest to her heart.
Christy learned from her work with rodeo that performance horses, as a result of jumping, cutting and general physical stresses, are more vulnerable to developing subluxations. “Horses need attention. It’s an advantage that they do listen to themselves, and they can self-adjust more easily than we can,” Christy says of the non-human patients that heal so much faster because they listen to their bodies.
Her long term goal is to establish a comprehensive horse rehab center that would include an on-staff massage therapist, acupuncturist, farrier and veterinarian. And when Christy dreams, she dreams big. She would even love to have a swimming pool for the horses.
But for now, she has her hands full. She still competes — though not as often as she once did — in barrel racing events. And she’s recently taken up breakaway and team roping. Barrel racing and roping, together with her chiropractic practice, keep her busier than she wants to be at times, but it’s clear that she’s learned to deal with the realities of a hectic life.
“I used to think I was going to save the world, but I’ve come to understand that I can’t. Now I just work on as many as I have the ability to. I focus on the ones who are willing,” Christy says.
And she’s sure that her future, like her present, will be full of animals.