Alternative therapies aren't just useful for humans -- they can also help your horse.
Traditional vet care is vital to proper horse care, but what if there was a way to make your stiff horse more supple, or your chronically lame horse more comfortable, that didn't require the use of modern drugs? For many horse owners, alternative therapies are the answer.
Alternative therapies have been around for thousands of years, and humans never stopped using them. However, in recent years, horse owners have begun to realize that these therapies provide the same benefits to horses as they do to people.
Here are a few of the most popular alternative therapies for horses.
Acupuncture was developed by the ancient Chinese, who believed that certain anatomic locations communicated with internal organs. The procedure involves the insertion of tiny needles at specific locations in the body.
Though it looks a little disturbing to see your horse looking like a pin-cushion, most horses enjoy the session, and it is known for helping minimize performance-related or compensatory muscle soreness in both humans and horses.
Going to the chiropractor is a given for many humans -- why not for your horse? Chiropractors manipulate the bones to restore proper alignment of the vertebrae or other joints.
This can be particularly useful for horses that suffer from back pain, especially if you notice visible asymmetry in your horse, such as crooked traveling or carrying the tail off to one side.
As with humans, massage therapy in horses involves manipulation of muscles to help improve circulation, relieve spasms, and increase range of motion. Equine massage therapists may also utilize stretches and other exercises into their work.
Massage can be used to target specific problem areas, or simply as a special treat, as most horses enjoy massage as much as their human owners do.
Some people are skeptical of herbal remedies. Kevin G. Keegan, DVM, professor of Equine Surgery at the University of Missouri, may have said it best in an interview with Horse Channel:
"Purveyors of herbal treatments for horses and humans suggest that herbs are useful for a variety of medical conditions. Mostly these conditions are vaguely described, difficult to definitively document, usually self-limiting or just plain made up. The potency of most herbal products is low. This is why in most cases they are not dangerous to use. It is also why they don't work to any significant extent."
Still, herbs often contain some of the same ingredients as traditional medicine, but without the side effects, and herb proponents (including some veterinarians) are adamant about their effectiveness as preventatives and even treatments. However, if you choose to utilize herbal remedies, it is important to inform your veterinarian before administering traditional medicines to avoid any potential side effects.
Magnetic therapy has been used since the 18th century to treat injuries in a drug-free, non-invasive way. There are two forms of magnetic therapy, one involving the static or permanent magnet, and the other the electromagnet. Both can benefit your horse, encouraging the repair of damaged cells, increasing muscle elasticity and aiding in injury rehabilitation.
Whether you're looking for a way to prevent injury in your horse, heal an injury, or care for a chronic problem, one of these alternative therapies may be just what your horse needs to become a better, healthier athlete ... or a more comfortable pasture pet.
Do you use alternative therapies when treating your horses? Let us know in the comments below!
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