While Western medicine is a traditionally accepted method for treating horses, some horse owners are using acupuncture to help their horses, too.
When your horse is in pain, you usually call out your vet for a workup. Your vet will assess your horse, look for painful areas, and maybe even perform a lameness exam. He or she may prescribe some painkillers, stall rest, or even chiropractic work.
But there's a new field which is growing in use in the equestrian industry: acupuncture. More and more vets are opening up to the idea that acupuncture may benefit horses in the same way that it can help humans. The video below is a great example of that, and you'll see how acupuncture may be able to help vets diagnose and treat horses.
Acupuncture may be able to help relieve pain and other issues in horses when other methods have failed. Pain medications can take a toll on a horse's sensitive digestive system; if acupuncture can relieve a horse's pain without the use of such medications, it can make the horse's recovery easier. Additionally, acupuncture is a non-invasive therapy, making it preferable to other alternatives.
If you think that your horse may benefit from acupuncture, then it's best to start by talking to your vet. See if your vet agrees and feels that this therapy may be a worthwhile investment, based on your horse's diagnosis. Your vet may be able to recommend a talented equine acupuncturist - you don't want to bring in someone who doesn't know what they're doing.
Many horses take to acupuncture quite naturally. The needles are very thin and they don't hurt when they're inserted or removed. Though horses are sensitive-skinned and may twitch their skin at the touch of a needle, many horses tend to relax after a few minutes.
You'll notice that the grey mare in the above video seems to enjoy her treatments. Most sessions last about an hour, and a professional should be able to travel to your barn and work with your horse to make his first session positive and relaxing.
When your horse is in pain or has another physical issue, it may take some time before you find the treatment that is right for him. In some cases, it's beneficial to keep an open mind about what may help your horse.