How Acupuncture helps your Horse

When your horse is lame, off form or obviously sick, you want to make sure to find a successful treatment strategy for a quick recovery. One treatment option that’s certainly worth considering is acupuncture. Find out in this article how acupuncture works and for which conditions it’s most commonly used in horses.


What Is Acupuncture? 

Acupuncture is a type of treatment that involves the insertion of small needles at carefully selected parts of the body. Historians believe that this practice first originated in China around 100 B.C. and then spread to other parts of the world. 

The purpose of the insertion of these thin needles is to stimulate the nerves, increase blood flow to the area, stimulate the release of hormones, and to alleviate muscle spasms. Although ancient cultures didn’t have the technology to prove this, today, through the use of MRIs, the body’s responses to the needles can be recorded. 

What Conditions Can Veterinary Acupuncture Treat? 

Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions and performance issues that afflict your horse, a few examples of which include: 

  • Lameness
  • Back Pain
  • Chronic Cough (RAO)
  • Muscle Tightness & Pain
  • Skin Allergy
  • Rideability issues
  • Chronic Colic
  • Enhance Performance in Sports Horses
  • Rehabilitation after Injury & Surgery

It’s important to have all of your horses’ prior medical findings available so that we can review your horses’ medical history. After a thorough physical examination, we will discuss the best approach for successful treatment with you.


Acupuncture Is Well Tolerated By Horses 

Typically, most horses don’t experience pain during needle insertion because of the size of the needle. There is no pain once the needle is in place. Most horses actually relax and doze off during treatment. 

If your horse experienced a fear of needles or injections, there is the option to treat with a special acupuncture laser which has a similar effect.

Does Acupuncture Have Any Side Effects? 

Side effects from acupuncture are incredibly rare but occasionally patients might seem a bit tired for up to 48 hours after their treatment. 

Additionally, since the skin is technically being broken through penetration, every horse being treated must be dry & clean and up to date with its tetanus shot.

How Do I Choose An Acupuncturist For My Horse? 

In the majority of countries, in order to offer veterinary acupuncture services, a person must be a licensed veterinarian and must be additionally certified through formal training. 

Although acupuncture gains in popularity, veterinary acupuncture is not widely available yet. 

If your horse might benefit from acupuncture treatment and your regular veterinarian doesn’t offer this specific service, ask for a referral. 

Certification by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) validates the vet is qualified to provide animal acupuncture and demonstrates expertise & professionalism.

Can My Horse Still Undergo Other Treatments? 

Absolutely! Acupuncture is often used in conjunction with other treatments to improve the overall health and ability to perform. However, be sure to keep all of the veterinarians treating your horse updated on the current therapy.

Acupuncture is a natural treatment, no medication is used. This makes it a doping-free treatment option for performance horses.

How Many Acupuncture Treatments Will My Horse Need? 

The number of acupuncture treatments your horse needs and the length of time they need to be seen is very individual and depends on the underlying medical condition. While some animals may only need a few treatment sessions, others might require regular therapy for an extended period of time.

In most cases, we start with four weekly sessions and extend the gap between consults after that depending on the individual patient’s wellbeing.