A variety of complementary therapies are available to your horse nowadays. If you’re new to alternative medicine, here are three worth trying!
In today’s evolved veterinary world, you have tremendous opportunities to do more for your horse than just cover the bare essentials. Gone are the days when caretakers were satisfied with providing a minimum level of care. This is because we have a much greater awareness of our horses’ ability to feel pain and emotion, and we also understand that the treatments we benefit from ourselves will also be good for our horses.
A variety of complementary therapies are available to help your equine live, perform, and thrive at levels he truly deserves. This article covers just three.
One of the best complementary therapies available to our horses is chiropractic care. Many veterinary practices already have or are adding this service to their existing layout. Veterinarians will sometimes receive additional training to become certified in equine chiropractic care. Other times, chiropractors who mainly work on humans will acquire additional education and incorporate equine chiropractic into their services.
The benefits of chiropractic are extremely diverse. Pain, tightness, lack of mobility and other issues are treated through manipulation. Simply put, chiropractic care moves certain bones into a more aligned position, thereby removing pressure from nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and improving comfort and mobility. Chiropractors will often use large blocks to stand on when treating horses, and may also use handheld electronic adjusting devices to assist them.
Another beneficial complementary therapy for our equine partners is massage. Many horses work — carrying riders, pulling carriages, or competing — so they use their muscles a lot. As a result, they may experience pain that they can’t easily communicate
to their caretakers. Much as we can feel rather uncomfortable after a hard workout, the same is true for our equines. Massage therapy can help by manually applying pressure using various techniques to soothe irritated muscles and loosen knots, improving the comfort of an animal who spends most of her time on her hooves.
Acupuncture involves inserting small needles under the skin at certain acupoints located along energy pathways in the body called meridians. One of the main modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture is used to help relieve pain and promote healing by balancing the body’s life force energy (chi) and removing blockages that impede the flow of this energy through the body. While it can be more challenging to find an equine acupuncturist, they are available — visit the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society website at ivas.org to find one in your region.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Talk to your veterinarian about complementary therapies to determine if your horse’s health will benefit from them. In some cases, contraindications may exist for these therapies. It’s also wise to reach out to those who are certified in these modalities for
a consultation to determine if, based on their expertise, their services will benefit your horse. In some cases, these modalities can be tailored to your horse’s specific health issues.
Horses are finally beginning to matter at the level they have always deserved. People are taking notice and caring better for the creatures who have cared for us for centuries. Moving these levels of care beyond the bare essentials can create tremendous benefits for your horse. Reducing his pain and improving his mobility and performance can also be felt in the saddle, so these therapies will benefit both of you!