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Adjusted Attitude

It took a lot of finagling to get Mark Wooten to the chiropractor. To put it in his words, Woo-ten,a 1982 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, thought chiropractic was a bunch of “hooty.”

But his back pain persisted, and he finally visited a chiropractor. “Chiropractic gave me my career back. I wondered if there was anything being done for animals, and my chiropractor told me about a course for learning animal adjustments,”Wooten says.

Wooten practices at the Nolensville Veterinary Hospital in Nolensville, Tenn., where Vol fans’ blood runs orange. Barry Fly, a CVM graduate of 1980, started the clinic in the early 1980s. He was soon joined by his brother Brad, a 1982 graduate of the college, and then Wooten came on board. Tony Kimmons, a 1995 CVM graduate, is the latest alum to join the team.

The hospital is a mixed practice, but Wooten and Kimmons do strictly equine work. Some weeks, Wooten personally sees as many as 70 horses, and a lot of those consultations are for chiropractic adjustments or acupuncture.

Wooten, who specializes primarily in lameness in the horse, became a certified chiropractor in 1998, and a certified acupuncturist in 2000. He says chiropractic doesn’t apply to death’s door situations, rather it is a tool used to improve performance. “I often hear complaints from owners and riders about lameness, yet you can look at a horse all day and not see it limp.” In fact, it often turns out it’s more of a resistance than a lameness problem. A misalignment is causing them pain. Chiropractic frees them.

After an adjustment, clients who thought they had a training problem with a horse often see marked improvement in horses with behavioral problems. “Ultimately it’s not really a training problem.Chiropractic saves some horses that are about to be cast away as useless or dangerous. It makes them safe horses again,” Wooten says.

Wooten, who calls chiropractic and acupuncture complementary not alternative medicine, says the demand for these services is growing. “I now get referrals from practitioners who at first thought ‘Wooten has gone off the deep end with this chiropractic thing.’ Now they see the benefits of what it’s doing. But most of my referrals come by word of mouth from clients, and that’s the best referral you can get.”

Wooten still maintains close ties with the CVM.“UT was probably the most fun I’ve ever had. It was a lot of hard work, frustration, and worry that you’re not going to make the grade—but it was the best time of my life. A lot of people there are still the first ones I get on the phone to talk to when a tough case comes in. I call them for consultations on the practice of veterinary medicine and also because they are close advisors and good friends. Dr. Henton,in particular, is kind of like a dad to me.” Dr. John Henton is a professor in Large Animal Clinical Sciences and coordinator of the Continuing Education and Alumni Relations programs.

Wooten says once you’ve graduated from veterinary college, you still have a lot to learn. He wants to make sure he continues to adjust to life along the way.

(Reprinted with permission of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.)

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