An afternoon with Dr Renee Tucker
By Amanda Barton
I was lucky enough today (23 May 2020) to meet Dr Renee Tucker and additionally super-lucky to have her treat one of my horses, one that has been lame for the best part of 2 years.
Dr Renee Tucker is a vet, an engineer and has specialised in equine acupuncture and chiropractic for the last 20 years. She is the author of the book “Where Does My Horse Hurt. “How things work” has always been a question that Renee has tried to answer and the unique combination of veterinarian and engineer has enabled her to create a special approach for helping owners with their horses. Over many years, she developed her own unique alignment technique, Tucker BioKinetic Technique (TBT). TBT not only aligns the skeleton, but also goes deep to treat the underlying primary causes.
The horse I asked Renee to treat was Sue (short to Satsuma as she is quite orange). She is a 8 year old New Forest pony that has been very slightly lame in trot since some kind of fall in the field in August 2008 (we assume as we never saw it). Since that time, I have tried absolutely everything I can think of to try to get her right; a full veterinary work up, nerve blocks, electronic lameness analysis, X-rays, Scans, MRI, the whole works. I have tried every modality of body work I have access to and used up all that I know about groundwork rehab to try to build strength to maintain soundness. Nothing has worked. In the end I put her out on the New Forest to run feral for a few months to see if a complete break and living on different terrain would make any difference (specifically I wanted to see if grazing and browsing at different heights would help – see work of Sharon May-Davis to find out more about that). This actually worked surprisingly well but I still did not have a reliably sound pony.
Having booked a evening talk at my place with Renee in June 2020 (now sadly cancelled due to Coronavirus) I became interested in Tucker BioKinetic Technique (TBT) and Carina Di Battista has been treating Sue for a little while (who is now very, very nearly qualified in TBT). So far this has allowed me to work Sue most days and maintain soundness which is MASSIVE progress. The previous pattern was that she would be slightly lame in trot after a couple of days of extremely light, in-hand work. So small steps, and still a very long way from being able to ride again, but actually very big progress given how stuck we were.
TBT works with the horse’s own immune system, biomechanical feedback loops, and neurovasculature mechanisms. I think what’s interesting about TBT is that its really focused on finding the cause of the underlying problem. All bodywork modalities aim to do this but not all cover a wide enough number of the body’s different systems to be able to achieve this. Normally a bodywork modality will primarily focus on one particular system of the body such as fascia or bones or muscles (the human’s choice). Of course everything is interrelated but a singular focus does means that the horse’s primary problem needs to match the human’s primary modality. In other words, if a horse’s primary problem is an issue with the skeletal alignment then you might get great results from the chiropractor but if the issue is a load of stuck and sticky fascia you won’t get as much benefit from a chiropractic treatment and would be better off with soft tissue work. This is why having a variety of really good body workers can be much more beneficial than just using one modality.
TBT has a large toolkit which includes organs, blood vessels, nerves or pretty much anything else for that matter so is very much led by the horse’s needs. In many ways this is a little bit outlandish and has a definite overlap with energy work but, to be honest, if it helps my horse, and I can see clear progress, then I am open minded to anything. Fingers crossed that this could be a way to get our lovely Sue Pony back to work again.