Two "miracle stories" helped shape her life, Anita Jackson said.
After dealing with a serious stomach ailment that traditional medicine couldn't cure, she saw a chiropractor. Within 15 minutes after an adjustment, she said, her symptoms were gone.
Shortly after that, when she was 19, she had a similar experience with her horse, which also had stomach problems. A veterinarian said that nothing could be done and that the horse would die soon.
"So I'm lying in the field with my horse, and the vet was explaining what was going on with my horse's stomach and intestines," Jackson said.
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She realized, " 'If my chiropractor was able to help me with my stomach problems,' I thought, 'Why not?' " She hit the horse on the spine with all of her strength, and the horse was up and walking in less than 20 minutes.
Jackson said that moment changed her life.
"I knew somehow, some way, I would treat humans as well as animals," she said.
Jackson and her husband, Bruce, who run Jackson Chiropractic Wellness Center in Versailles, do exactly that. They were at the Lexington Junior League Horse Show at The Red Mile this week to provide chiropractic treatment to show horses, working on nearly 20.
They have been doing animal chiropractic since 1994 and have worked in the chiropractic field since 1986.
Bruce Jackson said it's actually much easier to adjust a four-legged animal than it is to adjust a human.
"Most people think it takes a lot of force to adjust a horse. It takes very little force," he said. "The reason it takes so much force for a human is because a human's upright, is tight." Anita Jackson explained that being on all fours results in less gravitational stress on the body.
A one-time adjustment for a horse usually costs $100 to $150, Anita Jackson said.
Some people wait until the last minute at horse shows to decide whether they want their horse worked on, but Anita Jackson said it "absolutely" can make a difference in how a horse performs.
She used one horse, Cosmic Charm, as an example. The horse was suffering from pain in the lower back; after chiropractic care, Cosmic Charm can be shown.
"And he's winning," she said.
Cosmic Charm's trainer, James Wallen, said that Cosmo, as the horse is affectionately known, was hurting "all the way around" and that Bruce Jackson's treatment resulted in "night and day improvements."
Cosmo "wasn't responding well to his training," Wallen said. "But after chiropractic, he was much more relaxed. He didn't look like he was walking on pins and needles."
Some horses can develop a "bad attitude," which means they can form an intolerance to treatment, Anita Jackson said. But a bad attitude can also result from an animal's pain.
"A woman brought her dog in and said, 'This dog is vicious. It might bite you,' " Jackson said. "The entire life of this dog, she has been more contrary than pleasant. This dog has probably been hurting its entire life, but two weeks later it's a different individual."
While the Jacksons treat humans and animals, Anita Jackson said hardly anything compares to when treatment helps an animal; signs of success might include a horse's licking its lips, or a soft meow from a cat.
"It's unbelievably rewarding," she said. "The satisfaction, gratification and appreciation that the patient has for fixing their problem — whether that's relieving pain or discomfort — it's priceless."