Equine veterinary acupuncture is based on the theory from Traditional Chinese Medicine that horses contain different channels that allow energy to flow throughout their bodies. If any of these channels are blocked, energy can no longer flow properly, which can lead to muscle soreness, and eventually can cause more serious musculoskeletal issues or diseases.
There are different forms of equine veterinary acupuncture, but the form that Front Range Equine Performance specializes in is called “simple needling.” In this process, dry, metal needles are inserted through the horse’s skin into the muscle, and remain in place for 15-20 minutes. The needles used are very fine, but can vary slightly in length and thickness depending on the size of the horse, the specific acupuncture point that is being treated, how tight the horse’s muscles are, and how tolerant the horse is to acupuncture therapy.
The advantage of simple needling is that it is very effective in stimulating the flow of energy through the horse’s muscles, while being one of the most tolerable forms of acupuncture in horses. Many horses relax considerably and even doze after the needles have been placed.
Acupuncture promotes natural healing by stimulating nerves, muscles, and connective tissue by inserting thin acupuncture needles at specific points (acupuncture points) on the body. Humans treated using acupuncture report feeling slight pressure when the needle is inserted, but no pain.
Some equine conditions benefiting from acupuncture include:
Musculoskeletal problems (osteoarthritis, back soreness)
Acute and Chronic pain (laminitis)
Gastrointestinal problems (such as diarrhea, gastric ulcers)
Neurologic disease/injury (facial nerve paralysis)
Dermatologic issues (skin, allergies)
Some reproductive issues
Fibromyalgia (widespread pain and tenderness in muscles and soft tissue)
Dr. Marshall has completed over 200 hours of acupuncture training including the 150 hour CSU course in "Acupuncture for Veterinarians". She is Nationally Certified in Veterinary Medical Acupuncture (cVMA).
In the following video provided through the courtesy of Mark Rashid (Considering the Horse) and Crissi McDonald (Heartline Horse), Dr. Marshall explains Acupuncture, the initial acupuncture evaluation and treatment, and how to select a qualified acupuncturist for your equine partner.